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A more casual writing style might include contractions, humor, exclamations, and/or familiar vocabulary. Others writings may include clause-heavy sentences, esoteric terminology, and formal language. Still others favor analogies, idioms, metaphors, and colorful imagery.
"Authorial voice" is a characteristic of a writer's distinctive style. It is an important element of academic writing, fiction, and nonfiction.
Voice is developed over time and through experience.
You've probably heard that one quality found in good writing is voice. "Voice" refers to elements of the author's tone, phrasing, and style that are recognizably unique to her or him. A distinctive, persuasive voice will successfully engage your audience — without it, your writing risks losing your reader despite your top notch research or how well you adhered to sound writing practices. Yes, academic writing has rules about format, style, and objectivity that you must follow, but these will not rescue boring, impersonal prose. Whatever you choose to write about, be certain to develop an authorial voice!
Having a "unique voice" does not translate into having a radically different style from others. In academic writing, voice boils down to seemingly insignificant small habits and personal preferences. But they matter! If each student in your class was told to explain a complex concept, not one would do it in the same way. Each would use different language and syntax to say the same basic thing. Over time, each student would continue to make similar choices in language and syntax, and readers would eventually associate those choices with particular writers — each student would have developed an authorial voice.
Keep in mind that voice is not something you can automatically create. It may be tempting to use unusual syntax or fancy vocabulary hoping to make your writing stand out. Be forewarned - that would not be your genuine style. There is no quick way to create a recognizable voice, as it can only be developed over time. The key to developing your voice is to keep writing and to think about what specific types of writing excite you. Pay attention to how you say things — what words you use, what sorts of phrases and sentence structures you favor, even what kind of punctuation appears in your work frequently. These are the choices that will eventually become markers of your authorial voice.