Voice


Voice refers to the tone and tenor of the piece. It is the personal stamp of the writer, which is achieved through a strong understanding of purpose and audience.
Voice is the writer coming through the words, the sense that a real person is speaking to us and cares about the message. It is the heart and soul of the writing, the magic, the wit, the feeling, the life and breath. Voice is the writer’s music coming out of through the words, the sense that a real person is speaking to you and cares about the message. Voice is the ‘personality behind a writer’s words. It is the heart, eyes, ears, tongue, and hand of the writer. It is a writer’s way of telling a story, poem, the way only the writer can tell it. Voice develops over time with students’ gradual fluency in writing. Because of this, it is difficult to teach step by step. Poetry is a genre that can help to teach voice. Voice is influenced by audience and genre. Voice will be very different when writing a poem rather than a research paper for a scholarly journal.

You can use the scoring guide below to help you find where the piece of writing you are drafting is situated. If you are conferencing the piece with your teacher, it is recommended that voice be one of the Six Traits you ask for feedback on.

 

65

 Exceptional

A. Establishing a Tone: The writer cares about the topic, and it shows. The writing is expressive and compelling.The reader feels the writer’s conviction, authority, and integrity.

B. Conveying the Purpose: The writer makes clear his or her reason for creating the piece. He or she offers a point of view that is appropriate for the mode (narrative, expository, or persuasive), which compels the reader to read on.

C. Creating a Connection to the Audience: The writer speaks in a way that makes the reader want to listen. He or she has considered what the reader needs to know and the best way to convey it by sharing his or her fascination, feelings, and opinions about the topic.

D. Taking Risks to Create Voice: The writer expresses ideas in new ways, which makes the piece interesting and original.The writing sounds like the writer because of his or her use of distinctive, just-right words and phrases.

Strong

 

43

Refining

A. Establishing a Tone: The writer has established a tone that can be described as “pleasing” or “sincere,” but not “passionate” or “compelling.” He or she attempts to create a tone that hits the mark, but the overall result feels generic.

B. Conveying the Purpose: The writer has chosen a voice for the piece that is not completely clear. There are only a few moments when the reader understands where the writer is coming from and why he or she wrote the piece.

C. Creating a Connection to the Audience: The writer keeps the reader at a distance. The connection between reader and writer is tenuous because the writer reveals little about what is important or meaningful about the topic.

D. Taking Risks to Create Voice: The writer creates a few moments that catch the reader’s attention, but only a few.The piece sounds like anyone could have written it. It lacks the energy, commitment, and conviction that would distinguish it from other pieces on the same topic.

Developing

 

21

Emerging

A. Establishing a Tone: The writer has produced a lifeless piece—one that is monotonous, mechanical, repetitious, and/or off-putting to the reader.

B. Conveying the Purpose: The writer chose the topic for mysterious reasons. The piece may be filled with random thoughts, technical jargon, or inappropriate vocabulary, making it impossible to discern how the writer feels about the topic.

C. Creating a Connection to the Audience: The writer provides no evidence that he or she has considered what the reader might need to know to connect with the topic. Or there is an obvious mismatch between the piece’s tone and the intended audience.

D. Taking Risks to Create Voice: The writer creates no highs and lows. The piece is flat and lifeless, causing the reader to wonder why he or she wrote it in the first place.The writer’s voice does not pop out, even for a moment.

Rudimentary