Good writing is highly dependent on tailoring your words to your audience. Nowhere is this more evident than in the use of voice and perspective. How a writer employees voice and perspective greatly influences the overall tone of his writing, and determines whether a specific piece is judged a success or a failure. If you’re unsure of the different types of voice and perspective, continue reading for further explanation.
When we speak of voice there are really only two options that matter: active and passive. Active voice is where the subject of the sentence is performing
the action. So, for example, if I wanted to describe a baseball game using active voice I could say something like, “Michael hit a home run!” In this sentence the subject (Michael) performed the action (hit a home run). Active voice is the more common of the two.
In the passive voice the subject of the sentence is the recipient of the action. Using our same example in the passive voice I could say, “the home run was hit by Michael.” In this case, the subject (a home run) received the action (Michael hitting it). Writing effectively in the passive voice is almost an art form that very few people can do well, primarily because we don’t normally speak that way. As a general rule, it is suggested that writers use the active voice whenever possible. It makes for the easiest comprehension, the best flow, and the most natural expression.
When I write in first person I am writing from my perspective and my observations. The words “I”and “me” are tell tale signs. Second person is written from the perspective of the author speaking directly to his reader. Second person frequently uses the word “you” either in a singular or plural setting. Finally, third person is from the perspective of the author speaking to the reader about someone or something else. The pronouns “he”, “she”, and “they” are typical of third person.
The perspective you choose for any given writing depends on your audience and the points you’re trying to convey. Authors who effectively use voice and perspective find it much easier to communicate ideas to their readers. Therefore, in terms of the basic principles of writing, this is one area where many of us need to constantly hone our skills.