Friday, April 04, 2008

Novel Writing: Voice

I'm taking a few weeks to chat about novel writing. Today I'm going to focus on the words that we use to create our stories. Honestly, I believe the fire of voice is hidden in word choice. It's not just using big words. It's finding that unique set of words that actually express what you want to say. Many authors have flat stories because they use bland and boring word choice to create their worlds.

To create believable voice in a story, I have to bring together my tricky writing skills. I actually turn to the poets and literary devices. Poetry is the language of emotion and to become aware of how poets stir the emotions of their reader is important. Really, no one wants to read a book about weeping water pots or screaming banshees. No, we want fresh weeping and original bone-chilling screams.

Here's a list of various literary devices that you must employ to punch up Voice. You want to be aware of all of these terms. Take some time to familiarize yourself.

You will strengthen the voice of the novel if you add some well-crafted words. Beware, using these devices with skill is difficult. Don't think stuffing a bunch of literary devices into a novel is going to improve the voice. I think of this like music in a way. You can play sheet music or you can play it by ear, the thing that is important is that you show skill. Honestly, folks, that only comes with practice.

Today I'm focusing on the words, so I'm going to focus on literary devices that are actually about the sounds and choice of words. Think about this. Have you included onomatopoeia in the current work? Repeating sounds can really jazz up the mood of a novel. I've rarely read a book that does not use onomatopoeia. How about circumlocution or periphrasis? These two can be an enemy or a friend. Beating around the bush can bring great comedy to a work, but this can slide in a negative direction too, and just make the narrative flow seem wordy.

I hope something here has been helpful. You've got lots to think about now. Enjoy the journey of creating books.

DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.
Ambrose Bierce

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