Monday, January 5, 2015

Original expressions: tone-of-voice edition

Based on Roxane Gay's mention in her essay collection, Bad Feminist, I decided to read Pamela Ribon's novel, You Take It From Here (I read the Oyster edition--Simon & Schuster, Inc.: New York, NY; 2012). There's a lot of frank, funny language in the book, and quite honestly, I could have pulled a million examples of fresh, interesting ways to bring ordinary expressions to life. When I went through the examples I highlighted, I found a few that I really liked in particular, and realized they all related to describing a character's tone of voice. Not only are these lines sharp and funny, but they add a deeper dimension to the dialog and the character and create some vivid impressions.

1. A great comparison to the impersonal tone of voice mails; plus, a sense of duality--the message conveys normalcy, but the delivery suggests anything but:
"Danny," she said, her voice oddly calm and stilted, fake chipper, like she was recording an outgoing message for her voice mail. "I would like you to handle this."
--Chapter 9 (25.7% on Oyster edition)
2. The jealousy is palpable in the word "sniffed"; plus, it's magical to read "mucus plug" and "fetal pig" in the same sentence:
"I see y'all went ahead and had Tuesday-night dinner with some new people," Vikki sniffed, the words...coming out of her mouth the way some people say "mucus plug" or "fetal pig."
--Chapter 15 (55.1% on Oyster edition)
3. A delicious character description that builds into an apt simile and a vivid impression that is both visual and aural:
Dr. Fowler's eyes bulged behind round, thin glasses with a yellow tint, and she started each of her sentences in almost a whisper, a mumble that built up steam as she tumbled toward the final punctuation. She sounded like a fleet of police cars on the chase.
--Chapter 18 (61.5% on Oyster edition)

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