Have you ever been in a class where a teacher gives you an assignment, but the teacher has such a strict criteria for what he/she wants that you do not have any freedom to think? I had that happen to me in my English 225 class, which ended up being an unpleasant course for myself. For each assignment, the teacher wanted it her way or the highway. Here is an excerpt from one of my essays:
The Big House, State Street, Zingerman’s delicatessen: all aspect of Ann Arbor that make it a small, up-and-coming city. In Jane Jacobs’ acclaimed piece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the urbanist outlines the rigid criteria for a city to be considered “great” and “progressive.” Jacobs mentions diversity, concentration, and sidewalk population as just a few of her specific eligibilities of what makes a city note-worthy. Although Jane Jacobs has a strict qualification of what a great city is, Ann Arbor would be categorized as a thriving city based on the multicultural and security aspects of the community that coincide with Jane Jacobs’ arguments.
When I read that paragraph, it sounds nice, concise, and academic. But, who is writing it? It definitely does not sound like my voice; it sounds cookie-cutter and boring. Sometimes, I am so concerned with achieving the desired level of content on a paper that I completely lose my voice. And without voice, who is speaking?
I’m moderately nervous about this problem for my capstone project. My project is about Beyoncé’s rise to becoming an icon, which gives me quite a bit of liberty for my tone (I prefer to write how I speak– sarcastic and to the point). However, there is so much content needed that I do not want to get in a monotonous routine of writing just to get information down.
An annoying, yet necessary, task I will need to perform is reading my work out loud. Reading out loud sometimes helps me get creative with my writing, and I can notice more readily where I’m writing to formally. I want my piece to be understood by an average reader, and I do not want this to become a research paper.
My voice is important, and it is a critical part of my capstone project. Comment if you have any techniques when you realize that you are deviating from your desired tone of your piece.