Listening is a skill I am convinced God Himself wants mankind to master. I mean why else would He give us two ears and only one mouth? (Answer: So we listen twice as much as we talk.) Observing sounds of different kinds of voices can help writers with a few things.
- Developing better ways to describe the sounds of voices. For example, a nasal accent that reminds me of my time in the northeast.
- Helps us to gather great dialogue. For example, “It’s food for my brain.”
- Helps writers to learn to give characters personality through both sound and voice. For example:
- “For real, just chill out scrap! You know that chick is crazy.” – NYC slang
- “Brah, we just go talk story yeah.” – Hawaiian Pidgin
- “Fair play, mate” – Irish slang.
- “The bed was sitting catty-corner to the dresser.” – Southern Slang
I think when observing voices we can tell a great deal about the character or speaker. Learning to listen with intention of learning the many different ways people speak. Here is my entry for this EIO. I did not focus on dialogue for this exercise, but for the way, voices move and elicit reactions.
Two voices fill the space. They are all but void of accents but in the very corner of one soothing voice, there is a little hint of the south. He holds some syllables for a moment longer than his cohort. Droning the facts over a dull white noise that is only broken up by an occasional organ piping a familiar cheer. His voice beckons to the fans breaking up the monotony. At times, it almost blends with the white noise as they ramble on sharing every stat and fact available to entice listeners to hold on for a moment more.
Suddenly, the pitch rises high at the sound of a bat making solid contact, up, up, up it reaches the fans to feel his increased heart rate. The south sneaks out again as a whoop of excitement reports the ball has indeed found its way out of the park. A giddy laugh as the two lift vocal high-fives over the airway. The little boy in him lets out a solid expression of admiration for the man that now touches the final base. His voice smiles with excitement as he reports the 380-foot home-run.
The next batter steps up and suddenly a drop in his speech as he returns to the melodic lull, all business again.
NOTE: This EIO can also lead to great story ideas, as listening to voices can sometimes lead to a bit of imagination of what is happening. Many times when listening to voices I find myself lost in the what if’s of story making. (This example is one of those times I did. I can see a cute short story coming from this session of listening.)