Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Voice? A post for bloggers

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Voice in a Necker Cube - artist ken allan
What sort of voice do you use when you write a blog post? Do you have an informal or personal tone to your writing? Or do you prefer the more formal structured approaches?

Perhaps you like to adjust your writing style to suit the topic. Many good writers do, but my observation has been that even some of the top bloggers use essentially a single voice in most of their writing.

Randy Olson’s book, Don’t Be Such A Scientist, slams the scientist for being too cerebral when it comes to writing for the lay reader. He explains that scientists are too literally minded, are poor story-tellers and in general tend to be unlikeable when they write about their passion, Science (check out Talk of the Nation interview).


Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors. He has written earnestly and engagingly on Science, and often. Just read a chapter or two from his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and you’ll know what I mean. But he’s not a scientist.
Bryson is a journalist. Yet even for me, twice a Science graduate, his ‘voice’ immediately captures my interest in the Science he writes about. He speaks as if he is talking with me, not talking directly at me.

Can bloggers learn a thing or two from successful writers like Bryson?
I think we can. But I also feel there’s more to it than just being able to write well in a specific style.

Knowing the appropriate
genre to use, as well as how to apply it, is part-way to writers’ success. My literary friend and blogging colleague, Virginia Yonkers, agrees with this point of view.

Is there a single genre that is appropriate to writing blog posts?
Or should the genre be selected according to the topic of the post? Could genre be chosen to address a particular target group within the readership of the blog?

There are six genres that embrace most of the writing styles that bloggers may use:





Which would you select when you write your next post?
Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes


doyle said...

Good morning!

Oh, Lord, fair questions I suppose, but most of us are amateurs, and write out of joy or need (or maybe the need for more joy).

I never really thought about what voice I use, but I guess it depends on the topic. I get (or try to be) persuasive when dealing with the nonsense at the US Dep't of Ed), descriptive when writing about observations, technical when jotting down how-to's, but mostly it's a smörgåsbord of unleashed thoughts.

(My style in responding to others' post is another matter.)



Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Mōrena to you Michael!

It's nearly Mōrena here too!

Well, now that you mention it, your blog would be one among a few I visit where the writing style moves with the topic. You often use almost poetic language to set a scene which is always appropriate and sets the mood you intended.

I think every good blogger has what one might call a manila style - G.M. Hopkins would have dismissed it as Parnassian. But it is a sound base on which to begin.

Choosing the genre, as I think you do, gives an additional access to the reader as to what makes the writer tick. Of course, it's actually the writer who does the accessing in the finish.

What else I appreciate about some of your posts is what I think you are referring to as a smörgåsbord which, poetic though it often is, also traverses the boundary from one (appropriate) genre to another. When the combination works, as it often does, it's magic!

Catchya later

Paul C said...

You've made several wonderful connections for me with this post. First of all, I really enjoy Bryson's A Walk in the Woods and his travel series. His thoughts are both informative and entertaining, infused with wit and imagery.

I personally gravitate to the informal essay. The posts are usually expository in nature but made personal for my self and for others who read my posts.

Following bloggers over time is enriching. One gets a sense of their personality and perspective. It's almost like meeting them in person.

V Yonkers said...

I'd add one more category (which might fit Michael's style): communicative or conversational. Whenever I read Karyn Romeis's blog, for example, I feel like I've just sat down over a cup of coffee to discuss something with her. It is rare that I don't feel like I should be writing back a comment as her style encourages comments.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Virginia! Kia ora e Paul!

Isn't language wonderful?

That the target should be met, when otherwise missed, by taking the same matrix of thought couched in different words, shows the supreme flexibility of language to be tempered to fit a function. This, of course, is what genre is all about.

Thank you for your additional item, Virginia, and I agree. Both Michael's and Karyn's usual post styles match what you describe.

Catchya later

web designing said...

I think informal or personal voice is that voice which only felt when you are writing with some emotions.
After reading your post i must say that its a master peace and helpful for me!
Thanks for sharing with me cheers mate!

- J.
Web Designing

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e J!

I'm glad I gave you some peace of mind about using personal voice in writing. :-)

I'm rapped that the post is of use to someone.

Catchya later

samccoy said...

I don't know how I missed this post, but I just read it a few days ago. Excellent ideas that focus on adults and secondary students. This is an under served area in education. Content area (Science, Social Studies, etc) teachers could help their students develop their writing.

You inspired me. I wrote Tuesday trait: VOICE and I've referred my readers to your post.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Sheryl!

I think you are right about this being an under-served area in education, though I suspect that it has always been neglected to some extent.

For me is was like a well-kept secret. I unconsciously used some of the genres when I started writing poetry last century. I was reminded of the ideas some years ago by a friend who was also a teacher of English.

Thanks for the link to your interesting post!

Catchya later