Continuing with our online critique group’s Voice Workshop. Our workshop teacher, Rose Green, had us do some voice recognition and experimenting exercises.
Exercise #1, part a: Find a passage in a published book with a good example of voice.
I was terrified of this exercise. Even after reading the assigned articles, what did I know of voice? It’s the very reason I so needed this workshop. I simply couldn’t wrap my brain around what voice was. When I was a kid, if I didn’t know how to spell a word, teachers told me to look it up in the dictionary. I don’t care how big the dictionary, I could never find the word psychology in the “S” section. Finding voice was the same. And then – kapowie – it stuck me. The published author who came to mind has a voice which is the voiciest voice I know: Barbara Parks in her Junie B. Jones series. The passage I chose was from Junie B. Jones is (Almost) a Flower Girl, p. 19.
The next day at recess, I sang the pretty bride song.
I sang it to my bestest friends named Lucille and that Grace.
“HERE COMES THE BRIDE… ALL DRESSED AND WIDE… HER NAME IS CLYDE, AND SHE READS TV GUIDE.”
That Grace looked admiring at me.
“Wow. I never even knew that song had words,” she said.
Exercise #1, part b: Embland the passage.
What a cool-cool word. I like to roll it around in my mouth. Embland. Embland. What it means is to take out the voice, to make it bland. So here was my attempt:
The next day at recess, I sang the bride song to my friends, Lucille and Grace.
What I learned from doing this exercise: 1) I CAN recognize voice; 2) I don’t follow directions very well – I added my own voice with the last word of the emblanding exercise; 3) taking voice out of the passage certainly made the words sound dull; and 4) Dag-nab-it! Why did the emblanded passage have to sound an awfully lot like I write.
Exercise #2 Pick a passage from your own writing and instead of emblanding it, give it more voice.
For everyone in our group, this was much more difficult than doing it with someone else’s writing. To me, it ended up being more noticing when I told and didn’t show and putting things into my main character’s mind. I found with mine and with some of the others, that it is easiest to do this voice when using dialoge. But friend Jaclyn shot that down with what she did with her own passage. Jaclyn’s changed passage was still in narration, however, in her voicier passage I felt that it read like first person v.s. third.
From Jaclyn’s writing: