Monday, October 22, 2012

Voice, Imagery and Figurative Language

The other evening I attended the launch party for a new online literary magazine.  The Oak Orchard Review will feature writers and artists from Western New York, especially those who have a tie to the Oak Orchard creek area in Orleans, Niagara and Genesee counties. In their submission guidelines the editors mentioned that they look for a clear sense of voice, concrete imagery and compelling figurative language, and I realized how universal those three elements are.  And how connected the universe seems to be.  That same day I received an acceptance to speak about voice, imagery and language at the New England SCBWI conference next May.  So, it seems like a good topic to discuss here. 

No matter what you write - poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction - voice, imagery and figurative language are essential ingredients for success.  They are  just as important when describing a current event as they are creating a fantasy world.  

In order to hone my abilities in V, I and FL, I keep a notebook of words, descriptions and phrases that ring true that other writers have created.  One that I fell in love with at the poetry reading was created by Amy D'Amico. The leaves "typed" across the pavement.  Instantly I heard that dry clatter sound.  Another phrase I liked was written by Nathaniel R. Fuller in his short story, Aster -- the man had "more warts than prayers God actually listened to."  Who can't picture that guy? And you also hear the narrator's voice, jaded and world-weary. A two-fer. Excellent.

What words have captured your imagination? Keep a notebook and open your ears. Listen to the wonderful voices that surround you. It will make you a better writer regardless of what you write -- fiction or non-.  



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