Good morning everyone! It’s Wednesday and the weekend is almost here! Today’s post is a little late because I had a hectic night last night. I had just curled up in bed and I was starting to doze off and everything when my cats suddenly went crazy. The room was pitch black and all I could hear was them running about and jumping everywhere. Next thing I know, three cats jumped in the bed, straight over me and just start attacking the walls.
I was not impressed. All I wanted to do was sleep and I couldn’t. Not with the racket they were making. So I felt around for my phone and turned on the torch to figure out exactly what they were chasing and found a grasshopper had found its way into my room and was jumping about. I freaked out. No lie. I was huddled under my sheet for like five to ten minutes hoping and praying that the cats would catch and kill it. But no. Instead they were batting at it and letting it jump away and then running after it. After a while I was just like no. This. Cannot. Be. Happening. I needed sleep. I did not need some grasshopper jumping all over me. So when they chased it in a corner, I made a break for it. There was no way I was sleeping in there last night.
So some of you are probably wondering when I’m going to get to the writing exercise bit. Well there is no writing exercise. More like a writing discussion and this is it. No, we’re not discussing the fact that I’m irrational at best. What I want to talk about is the narrating voice. Or what I call the author’s voice in my reviews.
Basically, a story takes on a sort a rhythm, a pattern if you will, that’s quite similar to a person’s pattern of speech. Haven’t you ever noticed those patterns? Have you ever received a text message or email from someone and found that as you read it, it was like you could hear their voice saying the words as you read? Or have you ever been able to identify someone by the particular words they say, or the speed at which they speak, or the little speech quirks they have?
Stories are no different. In my book reviews, when I speak about the author’s voice, especially when they’ve used the first person POV, the way that author writes can give you a feel for the protagonist, it gives you an indication of how they think and respond, and gives you something to relate to. Their voice also sets the tone for the book, it triggers emotional responses, and most of all it adds some sort of appeal.
Let’s look back at my first two paragraphs. Reading it, didn’t you get a feel for me as a person? Honestly, I know you’ve might’ve gotten used to the way I talk/ write over the last couple weeks but still, looking at this, couldn’t you just hear me (or at least the voice you think I have) telling you this story? Didn’t you get a feeling of curiousity, just as I did as to what these cats were chasing? Did you laugh or roll your eyes when I started going on about the grasshoppers? Did you empathise with me because, as much as you’re not scared of bugs, you wouldn’t want them crawling all over you while you slept either? Did you notice that little device I used in the second paragraph, where I said: “This. Cannot. Be. Happening.”? It might be annoying when it’s used in actual books but I know I do talk like this. Little things like this make all the difference in bringing characters and a story to life.
We can go further. Certain stories, like some chick lit are very invested in making sure you’re right inside the main character’s head and so that by the end you’re know them better than you know some friends. They use shorter sentences, sometimes the characters ramble on. Everything is done to make you feel like the character is talking directly to you. That they could be standing in front of you. In other books, this is not the case. You’re not inside the character’s head; you have to get an idea of who they are from their dialogue and their actions. Sometimes the amount of description, the ratio of showing to telling, they all affect the tone of the story. We’re all familiar with the concept of the heavy read and the light read, or the book that you can fly through and a book that you have to think over every word. This week’s challenge to you? Get a book. No, get two. And look through them. Take a note of how they’re written, look at the similarities and differences. Try to actively think about how the words flow and how that affects the way you relate to the story.
Have a good day everyone!
K, the Popinjay.