Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Voice

Everyone hates the sound of their own voice. Well, not everyone. Some people don't. But those people are conceited jack offs. I bet they think their poop smells like roses. But most people are taken aback by hearing themselves outside of the comfort of their own heads.

In the same way that we find our audible voices foreign, we tend to have an unclear concept of what our writing voice is.

For those that don't know, a writer's voice is his or her bread and butter. What separates Ernest Hemingway from Charles Dickens, aside from the obvious difference in time periods? Answer: Their voices (and the fact that Dickens sucks balls way more than Hemingway, even though Hemingway kind of sucks balls too, unless you like fishing and six-toed cats, but I digress).

The writer's voice is the unique way in which he expresses himself. Long sentences or short sentences. Adorned or unadorned diction. Comical or dreadfully serious.

Taking my two volunteers, Mr. Hemingway and Mr. Dickens, I shall show you the differences in the author's voices by letting them speak for themselves. Mr. Dickens? I'd like you to go first, if that's fine with you.

Dickens: No not at all my dear foppish lad. Why tis only fair ain't it that I should speaketh first for I, my dapper self, twas bourne ages before sir Hemingway, that gruff and masculine symbol of brazen, bare-chested machismo.

Hemingway: Where's my wine? Get me a boat!

Dickens: Sir Hemingway, please. Do not disrupt a gentleman before he takes the lectern for if there is much delay I shall quickly forget what I wish to say. Why the thoughts will very well evaporate like a sow's milk left out before the orb of Helios.

Hemingway: Where's my gun? I want to hunt! God I hate myself!

Me: Now, boys. Please. We're supposed to be providing examples to the readers about what voice is, and frankly you two fistacuffing isn't really moving things along.

Dickens: I mean no disrespect when I say that is pure hogwash. I think your fair readers can see that my language is ornate, descriptive and unnecessarily long-winded. After all, my payments were based on a pay-per-word scale, as I was a serial writer, mirroring what you contemporary peoples would call a soap opera. Although my tales of love lost and regained and the wicked and the wronged are far superior to anything you bumbleminded heathens can imagine. Why my pieces have more twists and turns than a three-wheeled trolley cart being pushed by a...


Hemingway: I shot him good.

Me: Well I think that wraps things up. I'm going to go drag Dickens' lifeless reanimated corpse into the closest MickeyDs Dumpster while I keep Hemingway busy here with a snowglobe of Santa's Village.

Hemingway: Pretty!


emilyaldenfoster said...

I was sitting in the library reading A Movable Feast the other day, while my apartment was being fumigated. The best part was when Hemingway described how when he and his wife and the servant had to be away they left their toddler in the playpen with the cat to take care of it. Ignorant people, apparently, thought this was dangerous.

Who doesn't love six-toed cats? said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

Your Dickens isn't cockney enough. Hemingway was a bullseye, though. Pun intended.