Work for Week Seven
Speech and thoughts
There are different kinds of voices in any piece of writing.
· Overall narrative voic
· Voices of the characters when they speak
· The inner voice of thoughts. These may be
o the same as those of the narrator’s voice in an ‘I’ text
o merged into as is free indirect discourse
Free indirect discourse
is when the narrator’s voice temporarily ‘becomes’ that of a character. You can see this in this passage from Katherine Mansfield’s story Miss Brill.
Miss Brill put up her hand and touched her fur. Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again. She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes. "What has been happening to me?" said the sad little eyes. Oh, how sweet it was to see them snap at her again from the red eiderdown!...
Obviously there are all kinds of tenor you might adopt. Tenor means the overall attitude, feeling the speaker has, and is most clearly shown in
the tone of voice they have. The job of the writer has somehow to call up by his/her silent print. The speaker may be rude, polite, casual, formal, and so on
We all have our own personal way of speaking, or idiolect. It’s often effective to have the narrator or a character have a casual way of speaking, or to use ‘in’ jargon of some kind, or to swear, or to keep using words like ‘my dear’, ‘luv’ or ‘Mrs’, or ‘like’.
Dialects and Accents
These are often tricky to handle. It’s best to suggest rather than try to reproduce every word, say, of a French person speaking English. Focus on the dialectal words (grammar, vocabulary) rather than the accent (pronunciation), and just add the odd ‘oui’ or ‘monsieur’ here and there – as Agatha Christie does so well.
“She said, thoughtfully”
Where possible avoid such phrases, and make the speaker sound thoughtful. Using adverbs like ‘thoughtfully’ can be effective, but usually not. Remember
that each new speaker’s words start a new paragraph, soften ‘he/she said’ is not necessary.
For next time
Review whatever you are writing and think about how you handle speech and thoughts and by ready to talk about your approaches. The thoughts of the narrator or poet/speaker are often thematic too, of course, giving us the significance of what has gone before. Often the moment of insight is best expressed through the kind of suggestion we talked about last week. Haikus express thoughts in this suggested way.