Using Voice as a Tool

Olympus VN-7100- This is the recorder I bought and I highly recommend it.

Olympus VN-7100-
This is the recorder I bought and I highly recommend it.

As an aspiring writer, most of my life takes place on a computer screen. I see my words, how they look on a page. But hearing them spoken aloud is a whole different experience.

Last week I purchased a digital voice recorder as a part of my two-month marathon to finish my manuscript.

I have been reading each chapter into the voice recorder. I have a paper copy of the chapter in front of me as I read. Then, I go back and listen to the recording and make edits on the paper.

I have found the voice recorder helpful for finding awkward wording, repetitive phrasing, excessive adjectives/adverbs and generally unnecessary fluff words.

Sometimes it takes more than just seeing the words on the computer screen to be able to evaluate my own writing. Especially when it is a piece that I have been working on for almost a year!

Here are a few before and after sentences to show how the voice recorder has helped my writing:

Before: The DJ was dwarfed by the expanse of her loft. The cavernous ceilings were lined with large industrial piping; blank white walls shrunk her further.

After: Blank walls and cavernous ceilings lined with industrial piping dwarfed her.

Before: She wrote up the contracts and then sat behind a desk by the front door and interviewed long lines of eager candidates.

After: After writing the contracts, she sat behind a desk near the entrance and interviewed candidates.

Before: She was dressed in normal street clothes, but Crazy Woodsum could tell that her body underneath was salacious.

After: Her body under street clothes was salacious.

Several writers had recommended using a voice recorder as I go through revisions. Now, I feel like it is my duty to spread along this piece of advice to other aspiring writers out there.

Happy Recording!

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Obsession-Every Writer’s Goal

Since I’ve been back in the U.S. I’ve felt some frustration with my writing. I was doing a lot of reformatting, I was scrapping a bunch of writing I actually liked. Overall I felt uneasy and unenthusiastic about my manuscript.

Maybe I was getting burnt out. I lacked direction. I had so much material but wasn’t sure how to turn that into a book. I took a break, almost two weeks I didn’t touch it. I went to New York. I saw friends, I partied, I didn’t write.

I’m happy to say, since then I’ve really hit a stride. All the “thinking” I’ve been doing is paying off. I have a much better structure for the novel, which includes only the most necessary parts. The pace is fast, exciting, not bogged down with extraneous plot lines.

I’ve finally gotten back to the point where, as a writer I feel completely obsessed with the piece. I think about it when I’m not writing, I replay scenes in my mind, dialogues, I work on character traits. I take every opportunity I can to write, edit, revise. In my opinion, as a writer, this state of euphoric obsession is exactly where I want to be.

In the midst of this, I’ve made a few important decisions which I feel happy about.

First, I have decided to break the book down into three “parts”. I’ve found these breaks naturally in the material, and I like how it further divides the manuscript. The first part has thirteen chapters, each fairly short. I am now working on formatting the second part.

Also, I have decided to add several segments with different narrators.The majority of the manuscript is written in third person. Recently I have added several pieces from different first person narrators.

This serves two purposes: First, it makes the narrative more interesting and varied. I get to experiment with different voices. And for the reader it keeps them on their toes. Secondly, it helps to fill in important information gaps that otherwise would be hard to fit in.

Personally, my favorite novels usually have several different points-of-view, different narrators, different voices. I find it more interesting, a more complete and satisfying experience as a reader.

To other writers (or readers!) out there, what is your opinion on different narrators in one novel. Do you enjoy it? Find it difficult to follow? Distracting? I would love to hear from you. And as always, Happy Writing!