You’ve probably heard about “writer’s voice”: that distinctive style that sets you apart from every other writer who’s come before. Part of it’s your tone. Maybe distinguished. Compelling. Funny. Or quirky. But it’s also the feeling your readers get as they read those words you strung together. It’s the way your phrases hang together. It’s as personal as a signature. And just as hard to copy.
Ever read Hemingway? Never a word to spare. Stripped to the bone. Honest. Or Shakespeare? Tongue-in-cheek. Rowdy. And sprinkled with phrases that seems so simple, yet say so much. Who can forget that one-liner: “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
You don’t have to be a scholar on Hemingway or Shakespeare to immediately recognize their voice. But it’s great to learn more about your OWN voice as a writer.
Here are a few tools to help you recognize your own unique writing voice — and begin to refine it.
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Grab Some Tools and Let’s Get Started:
Let’s take a look at the words and phrases you use the most. Text-analyzer utilities abound. Here are two freebies:
Just click the big orange button to try their sample, using Beyonce’s lyrics. The word “love” gets a whopping 641 mentions in her songs (no surprise!) But I wonder if she realizes that the phrases “go, go, go” and “you must not” each appear 80 times!
- Here’s another one: https://www.online-utility.
Processing all the text I wrote above, I can now tell you that I’ve used “it’s” more than any other word. And in this short sample, at least, I’ve got 233 words packed into 29 nice, tight sentences.
Try it yourself with a sample of your current writing, and discover which words and phrases you use most frequently. Are you overly-fond of softening words like “somewhat,” “just,” or “partially”? Is “intractable” or “brilliant” your all-time favorite adjective? Have you inadvertently described something the exact same way twenty times? How long are your average sentences?
Hoo yeah. Knowledge is power.
Now keep digging:
Another easy-to-run scan is reading level. Is your writing geared for an 8th grade audience or a Ph.D. class?
Try this free readability analyzer, for example: https://datayze.com/
Plugging in the text I’ve just written above tells me I’ve now got 62 sentences, with an average word count per sentence of 5.73. Ahhh. I always knew I wrote “short and sweet.” That’s definitely a big part of my voice. (It may not be yours, of course. And that’s fine too!)
The readability score also tells me I don’t use “difficult” words a lot: reading level is easy-peasy. Just where I want it.
Enter some text and see your own readability level. If you scroll to the bottom in the link above, there’s even an option for a “difficult and extraneous word finder” and a “passive voice detector.” Soooo helpful if you’re going for a clean, active style.
Play around and see what you can learn about your current writing voice. And that “knowledge is power” thing? Go for it. Think about what (if anything) you might like to tweak.