|April Scouts 2014|
A Wise Voice
It's not only what you say,
but the manner in which you say it.
It's not only the language you use,
But the tone in which you convey it.
Words come from the mind
And grow by study and art,
But tone leaps from the inner self,
Revealing the state of the heart.
I'm not sure what was the state of the heart of these guys, but their voices were truly loud and insistent this past Sunday morning. I kept hearing their call and thought they were a part of a flock flying overhead. But when the noise didn't go away, I went looking. There they were, on the barn roof next door. And they stayed a looooong time--and made A LOT of noise. What in the world were they doing? Who were they talking to? Who was listening?
Francine Prose poses similar thoughts on the writer's world in Reading Like a Writer, A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them. Chapter 5, Narration:
"The only way I was able to trick myself into writing a first novel, as well as the first short story I published that I liked...was to write both the novel and the story as stories within stories, narratives told by one character to another. Eavesdropped upon by the reader, the storytellers and their audiences appeared at the beginning and end of the works, and occasionally throughout, to interrupt and comment upon the action.
"The reason I say 'tricked myself' was that this device enabled me to overcome one of the obstacles confronting the novice writer. This hurdle disguises itself as the question of voice and of who is telling the story...when in fact the truly problematic question is: Who is listening? On what occasion is the story being told, and why...?
"...For me, writing framed stories not only answered all those troubling questions about the narrator's audience, but also neatly integrated the answers into the narrative itself. I knew not only who was speaking but who was being spoken to, where the speaker and listener were, when and why the event--that is, the telling of the story--was occurring. This permitted me to skip over slow parts of the plot by having the listener become impatient and hurry the narrator along.
"...Was it something that one character would tell another in the way that people tell stories about their lives? Would anyone imagine that these recounted events would hold another human being's interest, and would the reader believe that anyone, even a fictional character, would stay focused and pay attention all the way through?"
My geese friends may have been calling to others in the flock. They may have only been talking to each other. But either way they represented storyteller and listener to me, a necessary pair.
I'll approach voice from a different angle now, by way of a framed story--though I don't intend to climb the barn roof to do it. How about you, what would you say about the writer's voice? Do you have a listener in mind when you write?