Finding a Voice

Finding a Voice


Prison Voices is fundamentally different from other modules you will study this year – the switch from traditional essays to blogging brings a whole new spectrum of factors to consider, such as social media and advertisement, to your work. One of the main changes you will notice when you start working on the module is the new tone you will need to adopt when writing for a blog post rather than an essay. Think about the articles you read online every day – not only academic articles, but news articles such as the BBC, even articles on Buzzfeed. Often, these articles will be informative. However, we don’t realise how much information we are taking in, since the language is much more casual than that of the heavy theory books in the library. Writing for Prison Voices gives you a chance to do that; to write in a conversational style and convey your passion for your subject.


This relaxed writing style can be liberating and really enhance the gripping power of your work. However, it isn’t always easy to start writing in this new way. We’ve always been taught in schools to write essays, not blogs. Our styles have been honed and crafted to be formal, reserved and detached from the reader. I found it quite intimidating at first, and chances are, some of you will, too. I struggled with drawing the line between what was too formal, and what was too informal. Thankfully, there are a lot of things that can help you find this balance. Reading other academic blogs is a great help in studying the tone the blogger has used. Even if you’ve read academic blogs before, reading them from the perspective of a writer (not a reader) can help you pick up on the subtle changes of language that make the blog affective.  Subconsciously, you can pick up on which posts have been well-written by how well the post pulled you in. What did that post do which others didn’t?



The feedback of other students will also help you shape your writing style. I found the proofreading from my group members really useful, as they were able to pick up on me sliding back into essay style when I did not. Often, you will be too close to your work to notice, so an outsider’s perspective can shed light on things. Even if you’re not proofreading for them, read each other’s blog posts! Not only can the styles of other students give you ideas for your own, but anything you notice they may need to work on may also be relevant to you. Some of you may have blogged before, and many of you won’t have, but this process will be new to everyone regardless.

Jade O’Leary, ‘An Opiate of Acquiescence: Confinement in Prison Memoirs and Letters’, Prison Voices: Crime, Conviction and Confession, 13 Sept 2014, accessed 16 Sept 2014

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