While there are numerous contributors to the final content that winds up within your yearbook sections, you want the tone and overall personality of your publication to remain fairly consistent. You want the “voice” of your yearbook to be maintained throughout–to create this, you first need to identify what that style of writing looks like. Then, you can work with your committee to modify each individual’s writing style to match that of your yearbook voice. Below, I’ll walk you through the steps you can take to find a great voice for your yearbook, then give you some tips for keeping that voice consistent across each of your yearbook sections.
Developing Your Voice
The voice behind your content is a combination of tone, style, and a unique view of the world. While each of your writers has their own distinct voice, they need to modify their regular style of writing to match the style of your yearbook. You want them to embody the right personality with every article they contribute. Consider a few key aspects of the voice you want your yearbook to convey before you settle on a specific direction:
- Tone: Do you want to use a chipper, cheerleader-esque tone to communicate across your yearbook sections? A wry, witty voice? Or perhaps more of a journalistic feel? All of this depends on the personality of your school, your age group, and your theme. A chipper voice might make your content sound very exciting; you can use a very conversational writing style and add in the writer’s “two cents” on each feature. A more journalistic style would include shorter sentences, and be more to the point and informational.
- Emotion: How much emotion do you want your voice to convey? Will you be reporting on strictly the facts, or will you pull out the feelings and emotions connected with each piece? This dictates the style of story your committee will actually report on within your yearbook, making it an important detail to consider.
- Details and Creativity: The voice you use within your yearbook will be dependent upon your level of detail. Your writing style and tone will change significantly depending on how much focus you give the details. Determine in advance what this looks like. For example, a younger audience responds well to a more creative writing style, with more adjectives and descriptors incorporated into each feature. But a high school audience really wants to know the facts–so perhaps a more direct approach would be beneficial.
- Point of View: Finally, one of the most important pieces of your writing voice is where the perspective of the article comes from. This refers to whether you’re writing as yourself, or from another person’s point of view. Referred to as the first or third person voice, this changes how readers react to your work. A first person point of view is more personal (“When I was at the championship basketball game, I was…”), while a third person style tends to have an additional layer of distance between the reader and the story (“This year’s championship basketball game was…”). Lay out how you want to communicate with your audience in advance to build more consistency into your book.
Keep Your Yearbook Sections Consistent
Once you’ve developed your voice, you need to help your committee effectively use that style of writing in their work. To do this well, create a pretend persona that they can imagine as they’re writing. This could be a fictional character from a famous piece of literature (are you Sherlock Holmes? Dr. Seuss?), or something completely made up. Give that person a name, and create some writing samples of how this Joe Yearbook would create articles for your yearbook sections. Then have your committee members practice writing in the same style. Soon, your yearbook sections will be filled with content that offers a consistent voice, despite having multiple writers working on your project. And that’s an excellent first step to building a cohesive feel across your entire book!