Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Sentence Structure’

Voice: Talk on Key Writing Tool

In Shelley Widhalm, Writing on February 12, 2012 at 11:00 am

It’s so familiar, yet it is effusive.

You hear it every day, but you don’t have complete control over it.

It is voice.

The way it sounds – the pitch, tone and accent – and how you choose your words as you talk is part of it.

Voice written down becomes more than word choice. It is how you put together words and sentences and paragraphs. It is how you choose to describe things.

Hemingway wrote short, crisp sentences.

Faulkner was effusive.

Dickens was a bit flowery.

The voices of the greats show how writers can capture the feeling and tone of their writing through word choice, syntax and phrasing.

Voice is how writers structure a sentence. It pivots toward boredom as a series of subjects and nouns without variety in where the words are placed. It becomes staccato in the even, unaltered rhythm.

To be exciting, voice uses varied sentences, becoming descriptive in places and action-packed in others, aware of the balance of the story structure and the plot needs.

Voice is how you transition between thoughts and ideas.

It is how you choose to tell a story.

It is the reason you write. It is you, reflected in how your heart unfurls into words. It’s what you choose to write about, revealing what you notice, what you care about, what matters in the world you’ve created.

It is what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch, but in your own words.

Voice is your style. It is the way you see the world and interpret events. It is you on the page.

In love with the word and the beauty of language.

The Plot-Sentence Question

In Shelley Widhalm, Writing on December 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

Is it plot or the sentence that’s the problem?

Beginning writers can have pretty sentences that go nowhere, or they can have plot without the other elements of good writing.

That’s what young adult author Brenna Yovanoff, who visited the Loveland Public Library last week, has found to be the case from her multiple years of experience writing short stories and publishing two novels, including her New York Times bestseller “The Replacement.”

I have to agree.

My first attempts at writing had the adornment of store windows decorated for the holidays, sparkly, colorful and attention grabbing. But they lacked the building holding the windows in place.

What I wrote had a scantily clad plot, without setting and character development to color my created world with people, places and things.

Everything I did was an attempt without story. My characters acted but without the goal that drives them through each scene until they overcome some obstacle to get what they want or realize that they didn’t want, but learning something even better along the way.

I had to do a lot of research – I read books and magazine articles about the writing process – to understand the structure that holds stories together.

This structure encompasses the plotline from beginning to end with the arising conflicts, whether inner or outer, and tension between characters or forces serving as the scaffolding. Otherwise the plotline would be flat moving from Point A to B to C and on and on.

I didn’t understand what some would call formula, but what I now know is elemental to writing a novel.

Plot is what gets readers turning the page, escalating their desire to find out what happens until the last page. Sentences and how they are written, or an author’s style and voice, is what gives writing individuality, so that no other writer can tell a story just how you, the writer, has to. Pretty sentences and all.