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The Writer’s Voice Vs. The Writer’s Platform Dynamic: Part 1

Is there a difference between a writer’s voice and a writer’s platform dynamic?

Yes, there is a difference.

There is often a difference between a writer’s voice and his or her platform dynamic because writers are so much more than our voices these days.

We are a dynamic force of leadership, entrepreneurship, and technological innovation as well as fitting the old fashioned description: writer, or a person who writes.

But don’t dismiss the seemingly old-fashioned job description, because writers write, first and foremost, and everything else, including voice and platform dynamic, emerge from the writing that we do.

You may not have heard the term “platform dynamic” before, because I coined it. And I’m going to keep talking about it until everybody thoroughly understands it. But I doubt we are going to get there in one blog post because it’s a complex topic. And one that is thoroughly covered and put into context in my forthcoming book, The Writer’s Workout.

And, I guess once again this is going to take a few posts to cover thoroughly, so I’ll break it down into three posts. Here we go!

What is a writer’s voice?

To quote John Schultz, the creator of The Story Workshop Method at Columbia College Chicago from his book, Writing From Start To Finish:

Voice is the articulation of all perceptions in verbal expression, written and oral, including the so-called nonverbal which we want to get into writing too. Voice is the expression of the whole person, an extension of speech, an extension of the body.

I agree with Shultz about this definition of voice. He was one of my professors in grad school and I have a lot of respect for him.

However, the way I conceive of the writer’s voice is a not only as an expression of the whole writer, but also as related to the particular context in which the writer’s voice is heard.

Therefore, I have two definitions of voice. One is the writer’s voice, which is holistic yet evolving with the writer, as the writer changes and grows.

And the other definition of voice reflects the ways that a writer consciously changes her voice in response to the context in which the writer’s voice appears.

According to this definition, I have a voice across mediums that most could recognize. But let’s not be too quick to pronounce me monotonous: my voice also has a mercurial aspect to it.

For example my voice in my blog vs in my books is not quite the same. Have you ever noticed? (Me neither, my readers had to point it out to me.) It’s the same speaker (me) but my tone in my books has a more patient, kind, and helpful tone. That’s what readers like. And ditto in my curriculum writing.

But in my blog my voice has more urgency. More calls to action. More “wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee, writers” tone to it.

That’s because this is a different context than a book, therefore my voice shifts into what we could call blogger voice.

Perhaps the shift is imperceptible to some, but it’s quite obvious to others. And people are responding to both in different ways. In my books and classes, folks are using my work as tools to focus on their own work. They don’t want to focus on me, and I don’t want them to focus on me.

But in my blog, as you may have noticed, I would like a little more of the reader’s attention. And the shift is subtle but it works for me.

What do you think? Do YOU have a voice that is characteristic of your body of work overall? What about in various media? Do you also have an “online voice” that is slightly different? Is this different than your speaker voice? If so, in what way or ways?

This is an interesting topic. I think we should discuss it because I have even noticed that I even change my voice slightly as I switch social media tools. It’s also different in my blog and my e-zine. How about you?

Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about the definition of a writer’s dynamic.

Then, on Monday, we will do some comparing and contrasting of the voice and dynamic, in case the differences are not utterly clear.

Hope to see you then!

~ Photo by sean dreilinger

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • phd dissertation November 3, 2011, 6:36 am

    very interesating post! thanks a lot!

  • Shannon Lell November 3, 2011, 2:52 pm

    I agree with your assessment and have thought some of the same things, although much less eloquently. I have thought a lot about what “voice” means lately and I have come down the conclusion that it’s all about the minute decisions one makes in word choice, or lack thereof. Thank you for all your work!

  • Hope November 3, 2011, 4:25 pm

    Intriguing! I’ll look forward to the next post.

  • Anonymous November 3, 2011, 12:38 pm

    You’re welcome, Shannon. Thanks for commenting.

  • Catherine Al-Meten November 7, 2011, 2:59 am

    Glad I went back to the beginning as you suggested. Very interesting, and I like the way your are discussing this. I teach comparative religions, spirituality, and language and culture, and I am interested in all kinds of  different forms of writing…In the comparative religions tradition as in cultural studies, we talk about worldview and perspective…both of which affect how we talk about things. I just started using voice software, and I have noticed my voice changes according to the different ways I express myself…handwriting, typing, speaking, speaking into a machine…it’s all so fascinating..onto article 2. Catherine

  • Catherine Al-Meten November 7, 2011, 11:00 am

    By the way, I do know the difference between you’re and your…ooops.

  • Leigh Ramsey November 8, 2011, 4:52 am

    “Platform dynamic”–I like it, Christina.
    For sure: Over the years, I’ve cultivated my voice, and I think it’s a dynamic, to cannibalize your word, or at least quirky and recognizable voice, and I discern a change in it across mediums (from blog to creative writing to nonfiction to Twitter social networking to FB social networking and so on), though for me I’ve thought the change to be related more to my perceptions of the audience and the space constraints (e.g., with Twitter). I no longer feel I’m chained to emulating the writers I admire, and, thus, my own voice has emerged. As to platform . . .  That’s harder for me to grasp or at least more difficult for me to establish. Though I have a literature degree, I’m largely trying to self-educate with respect to what makes a great writer (and, to that end, The Writer’s Workout is on my Xmas want list!). I see platform almost as the ‘extroverted’ side that today’s all-in-one successful writer needs, and which I’m trying to work on.* Being somewhat introverted, however, I have found it quite difficult to establish a platform from which to sell my brand, such as it is, once the brand begins both to truly cohere & arrive (at this point, I have confidence in myself, so it has arrived in that sense). I won’t blather on too much further except to say that I appreciate this article, Christina, and am looking forward to the additional articles so I can suss out the finer points of marketing and writing that you already “get” and I’ve yet to understand!
    *Far be it from me to plug another writer here, but I’m wondering about your assessment of agent Janet Reid’s take on platform. A recent posting of hers that I stumbled across in the last couple days makes the case that a novel doesn’t need a platform. Further, I’d love to pick your brain–and pay you what you’re worth rather than seeking free advice!–about how a nonexpert might go about writing a nonfiction book in terms of seeking out an expert co-writer (fictitious e.g., I’ve experienced Parkinson’s as a caregiver, through a relative, but I’m not a medical professional; however, I want to write a nonfiction text that brings my experience and an expert’s knowledge to bear).