J. Robert King

I’m Hearing Voice(s)

There’s an elusive aspect of writing called voice. Some writers have it, and some writers don’t. It’s like rhythm, that way, or like “the moves”–though anyone who ever claims to have “the moves” clearly does not.

Well, I just visited a great blog  that is overflowing with voice: http://toddmichaelrogers.blogspot.com.

Yeah, Todd Michael Rogers has a one-of-a-kind voice–smart, snarky, and sarcastic, but somehow still brimming with hope and good cheer.

How can a person fit so much voice in simple words?

It’s because our ears are trained to read voices the same way our eyes are trained to read faces. Here are the five basic things we can discern from someone’s face and from someone’s voice:

Identity: Who the person thinks he or she is (relationship to self)

Position: Who the person thinks you are (relationship to audience)

Attitude: What the person thinks about what you’re discussing (relationship to the topic)

Purpose: What the person is trying to accomplish (relationship to intent)

 Charisma: How effective the person is (relationship to communication)

That’s a lot to read from one face or one voice, but we do it all the time. The words we use to describe voice are the same adjectives we use to describe personality (wild, uncertain, bubbly, phlegmatic), position (professorial, chummy, confessional, welcoming), attitude (snide, delusional, cheery, playful), purpose (persuasive, entertaining, awe-inspiring, informative), and charisma (bumbling, acute, blathering, lyrical).

That’s why voice is so elusive for writers, just as faces are so hard for painters. In a painting, even an amateurish fencepost looks fine, but an amateurish face looks hideous. In the same way, a fake writing voice clangs like tin.

But Todd Michael Rogers has a genuine voice that tells you all about those five elements (what philosophers call the “rhetorical situation”).

And given the fact that he is about to get married, I’d even guess that he has “the moves.”

June 19th, 2009
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One Response to “I’m Hearing Voice(s)”

  1. Todd Michael Rogers Says:

    …Oh my!

    Well, …it figures you would praise me for use of voice

    …to the point where I can’t even write a thank-you.


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