Have fun creating your voice as a novelist, and creating voice for individual characters. Here’s a matching quiz. Match the dialogue to the speaker. Assume all are American.
1. “What do you want, Sherry?” asked Hamilton.
2. “What’cha want, Sherry?” asked Hamilton.
3. “Whatever do you want, Sherry?” asked Hamilton.
4. “What! What?” asked Hamilton.
5. “What is it that you want, Sherry?” asked Hamilton
6. “What do you want, my pretty Sherry?” asked Hamilton.
A. Unpolished male
B. Consultant male
C. Exasperated male
D. Demonic/psycho male
E. Stuck-up prig male
F. Typical male
Consider the following four examples, which contain essentially the same information, but conveyed by very different voices.
Hearing Natalie’s knock, Abby bolted to the door. When she unfastened the deadbolt and opened the door, Abby couldn’t help herself. “Took your time!”
“I’m supposed to have the day off, Abby.”
“In this business, there is no such thing. Something’s happened. We need to have an emergency planning meeting.”
“Perhaps if you had explained the emergency…”
Natalie’s irritated expression was replaced with perplexity. She looked fresh in the morning’s light, but also hesitant to enter her boss’s private quarters.
“Let’s not waste time.” Grabbing Natalie’s hand, Abby pulled Natalie into her apartment, but released her arm as she turned. Walking toward the kitchen island where her papers were strewn, Abby heard Natalie’s footsteps following her across the hardwood floor. She looked into the living room mirror. Natalie was evaluating her furniture.
Natalie’s knock resounded on the door. Abby found Natalie on the other side standing in the bright sunlight. Even though it was Natalie’s day off, the murder at the store meant closing for a day, at least until the police finished with the crime scene. Giving Natalie an explanation and her instructions for the next day was imperative. Natalie seemed reluctant to come inside so Abby opened the door wider, beckoning to her. But when they walked to the kitchen, timid Natalie sure looked interested in Abby’s furniture.
After hearing a knock on the door, Abby wondered if her assistant had arrived. It better be Natalie. She found Natalie on her doorstep. Smug satisfaction appeared on Abby’s face knowing that her minion had followed her directive even on her day off. She noticed the bright sunlight shining on Natalie’s face. Not a line on her face, yet! Natalie seemed hesitant to enter, so Abby opened the door wider and gestured for her to follow. The little mouse is scared of me. Turning her back on Natalie, Abby walked to the kitchen expecting Natalie to follow her. When she went behind the kitchen bar and faced Natalie, she was shocked to find Natalie inspecting her furniture. What nerve!
“Natalie, you’re finally here.”
“I’m not always available, Abby.”
“If you want your job, you will be.”
“That’s not fair. Everyone’s entitled to a day off.”
“Not in this business. We’re wasting valuable time. Come in and let’s get started.”
“What’s so all fired important?”
“A customer was poisoned in the shop last night.”
“Oh my God!”
“Yes, Natalie. Somethings are more important than your day off.” Abby ushered her assistant into her apartment and walked to the kitchen where her work was spread-out on the counter.
“Sit down at the bar, I’ll grab some coffee, want some?” Abby asked, but Natalie was unresponsive, too busy hawking the furniture.
Which example do you think shows off voice best as defined by Nathan Bransford?
WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Carolyn Mulford on 5/25 and Liz Mugavero on 6/1. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.