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Posts Tagged ‘voice’

Originally posted on October 6, 2010

Ever notice that each well-written book has one quote or an instance of narrative inside it that embodies the essence of that book?

I was skimming through some books, which I recently read/re-read, paying closer attention to the authors’ style and characterization techniques, and voice and the way they played with plots and sub-plots.

It is during this exercise that I realized what true talent it takes to be able to distill the whole plot, purpose and theme of a novel into just a few short, well-chosen bouquets of words.

Here are some true gems, spoken or narrated by the (a) main character in each of the books.

  • Julian smiled. “Not quite,” he said. “Let us say that I am as American as pizza pie. I did not originate here, but I am here to stay.”

                    — The View from Saturday, E.L.Konigsburg

  • He liked to forget he was Luke Garner, third child hidden in the attic.

                    — Among the Hidden, Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • “This case is as simple as black and white.”

                    — To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

  • His father thought. “No, I don’t think so. Of course the Elders are so careful in their observations and selections.”

                    — The Giver, Lois Lowry

  •  The rain is a cool kiss on my sleeve as I link my arm through hers. “We’re all damaged somehow.”

                    — A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray

  • “Ever since I was little,” Mullet Fingers said, “I’ve been watchin’ this place disappear – the piney woods, the scrub, the creeks, the glades. Even the beaches, man – they put up all these giant hotels and only goober tourists are allowed. It really sucks.”

                    — Hoot, Carl Hiaasen

  • I don’t make up lies for no reason. I just move the truth around a little when it gets in my way. What’s the big deal about that?

                    — Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, Gennifer Choldenko

  • “It’s less a matter of looking the other way than of closing our eyes to what we can’t stop from happening.”

                    — Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

  • Finally, I’m a grown-up! Finally, I’m a child.

                    — Deliver Us from Normal, Kate Klise

  • “A woman’s place – our place, Roshan – is behind the veil, behind the zenana’s walls, and if you want to do anything at all, do it here, in this space. But,” Jahanara added, unable to be kind to a sister she did not like, “you can do little, Roshan, you are but a second daughter. Stay away from the jharoka.

                    — Shadow Princess, Indu Sundaresan

Do you have a favorite quote from a book?

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Ever notice that each well-written book has one quote or an instance of narrative inside it that embodies the essence of that book?

I was skimming through some books, which I recently read/re-read, paying closer attention to the authors’ style and characterization techniques, and voice and the way they played with plots and sub-plots.

It is during this exercise that I realized what true talent it takes to be able to distill the whole plot, purpose and theme of a novel into just a few short, well-chosen bouquets of words.

Here are some true gems, spoken or narrated by the (a) main character in each of the books.

  • Julian smiled. “Not quite,” he said. “Let us say that I am as American as pizza pie. I did not originate here, but I am here to stay.”

                    — The View from Saturday, E.L.Konigsburg

  • He liked to forget he was Luke Garner, third child hidden in the attic.

                    — Among the Hidden, Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • “This case is as simple as black and white.”

                    — To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

  • His father thought. “No, I don’t think so. Of course the Elders are so careful in their observations and selections.”

                    — The Giver, Lois Lowry

  •  The rain is a cool kiss on my sleeve as I link my arm through hers. “We’re all damaged somehow.”

                    — A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray

  • “Ever since I was little,” Mullet Fingers said, “I’ve been watchin’ this place disappear – the piney woods, the scrub, the creeks, the glades. Even the beaches, man – they put up all these giant hotels and only goober tourists are allowed. It really sucks.”

                    — Hoot, Carl Hiaasen

  • I don’t make up lies for no reason. I just move the truth around a little when it gets in my way. What’s the big deal about that?

                    — Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, Gennifer Choldenko

  • “It’s less a matter of looking the other way than of closing our eyes to what we can’t stop from happening.”

                    — Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

  • Finally, I’m a grown-up! Finally, I’m a child.

                    — Deliver Us from Normal, Kate Klise

  • “A woman’s place – our place, Roshan – is behind the veil, behind the zenana’s walls, and if you want to do anything at all, do it here, in this space. But,” Jahanara added, unable to be kind to a sister she did not like, “you can do little, Roshan, you are but a second daughter. Stay away from the jharoka.

                    — Shadow Princess, Indu Sundaresan

 Do you have a favorite quote from a book?

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Ahem! Hema has seen some of her blogger friends invite a guest to blog in their stead and has been mulling over whether she should do the same. Since she does not seem to be any closer to making the right decision in the near future, I thought it best to wrest that choice from her and take the appropriate course of action myself.

Hence, here I am, channeling my thoughts to her site, even though I personally abhor self-promotion, and have been successfully able to keep away from limelight for over a decade now.

In case you haven’t caught on to who I am, please allow me to introduce myself in a proper fashion.

I am the mature, shady tree that graces the aforementioned Hema’s backyard.

It is a fact that I would rather be in the exalting company of more sophisticated perennials, such as Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree, listening to their lives’ rich experiences.

It is also true that being an admirer of master craftsmen such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, I would rather be living in the countryside in England, breathing in the same air that they breathed out once.

However, nobody has deemed it necessary to ask my opinion. And not having been gifted with the capacity to move by myself, I am stuck in this backwater.

Having said that, I have to admit, though, that there are certain advantages to living where I do, that make my life not quite such a blight: Hema adores me and makes no bones about it. She fell in love with me when she first set eyes on me over a decade ago, in a tree farm. I was then a mere seedling and had not even acquired any of my admirable qualities – if I do say so myself – yet. She paid a handsome price for me, and had me planted in her backyard in full view of her living room.

She also has never been shy about acknowledging the fact that she is very often visited by her muse when she seeks my shelter.

What she does not yet realize is that it is not strictly her muse that has been finding her whenever she sees fit to gaze up at me or come out and recline underneath my canopy. It is, in fact, mine.

I have always had this bent for classic literature. (Say, could it have anything to do with the possibility that my ancestors have been transformed into the paper that has been used in penning down the thoughts of yesteryears’ master storytellers? Hmm… A thought worthy of further exploration!)

Ahem, I beg your pardon for that detour; I am somewhat prone to getting side-tracked, if I may be so honest.

So, yes, I have been helping Hema with her writing, though I find it rather trying to have to keep sending her ‘womanly’ thoughts rather than my natural masculine ideas. (Also, let it be known that I take umbrage upon whoever burdened me with the family name of “Lace Bark Elm”. Let me take this opportunity to clarify that there is nothing remotely lacy about my attributes, notwithstanding my appearance, upon which I have no say.)

And as if that were not taxing enough, recently, Hema has been seriously bogged down by the need for a more juvenile literary voice. I and think in a childish manner? That is absurd! Hema is definitely barking up the wrong tree in this instance. She is very well on her own for that one, and I am very much tempted to end my authoring-relationship with her!

Finally, this is the conundrum that I am currently grappling with … no, no, a preposterous dangling preposition? Alas, has Hema finally found a way to subconsciously channel her voice and style back to me? That would be the ruin of me!

Let me make another more decent attempt at it:

This is the conundrum with which I am currently grappling:

Do I let Hema know that I have been the one funneling all her writing abilities to her, or not.

Hmm… come to think of it, I may have taken that decision away from myself by being a guest blogger in her blog, even if unbeknownst to her, and attaching my signature to it at the very beginning of this article. She is bound to figure out by herself finally.

Now, if only she would be wise to my feelings about those rowdy chipmunks that see it fit to frolic up and down the length of my branches day in and day out! I lament their lack of respect for age or superiority. I surmise it is in keeping with the sentiments of the majority nowadays. Alas!

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