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Adjusting Your Writing Voice

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Adjusting Your Writing Voice

You adjust your voice all the time when you speak. For example, imagine that you've been pulled over for speeding. Here's how the exchange might go with the officer:

Officer: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

You: "Why, no, sir. I always try to be a safe driver."

Officer: "Do you know what the speed limit is here?"

You: "I believe the speed limit is 45 miles per hour."

Officer: "It is 35 miles per hour. Do you know how fast you were going?"

You: "Probably a little over 35 miles an hour, though I'm not sure. . . ."

Now imagine talking about your speeding ticket with a friend:

Friend: "Hey, did you get pulled over after school?"

You: "Yeah. Totally ridiculous. Guy waits in this speed trap. Loves to catch high schoolers."

Friend: "What was the speed limit?"

You: "Supposedly 35. Everybody does 45 through there. Culver flew by, laughing, while I got my ticket. Probably was doin' 50."

Friend: "How fast were you going?"

You: "He said 48, which is ridiculous. I could swear I didn't do more than 45. Just my luck!"

You would probably be more careful, polite, and proper when talking to a police officer and trying to avoid a ticket, and less so when talking to a friend and expressing frustration.

In the same way, you should make sure your writing voice connects appropriately with your intended audience and helps you achieve your purpose.

Your Turn Write a few sentences using an appropriate voice for each audience and purpose.

  1. Your parent wants to know why you were pulled over by a police officer.
  2. Your first-hour teacher asks why you are late for school.
  3. Your grandma asks if anything interesting happened on your drive home from school.
  4. Your younger sibling asks why you are in trouble.

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