The writer's 'voice'

We all have different ways of expressing ourselves in our speech and in our writing. In writing, this is sometimes called the writer’s ‘voice’.

Effective writers have a unique voice or style of writing.

Look at these two very different styles of writing:

  1. I suppose I could tell you all about where I was born, what it was like when Mum was still around, what happened when I was a little kid, all that kind of stuff, but it is not really relevant.
  2. My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.

One of these extracts is from Charles Dickens' novel, Great Expectations, first published in 1860. The other is from Kevin Brooks' novel Martyn Pig, published in 2002.

Which is which and how do you know?

The first excerpt was written by Kevin Brooks and the second was written by Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens' sense of voice is very different from Kevin Brooks'. There are several reasons for this:

  • they are writing in different time periods
  • they are writing for different audiences

Even though their purpose is the same - to entertain - the style of writing has changed between 1860 and 2002... 142 years of language change!