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[ATM] Exercise: Voice, Foregrounding

Write something in a voice totally alien to you. Play. Before you write, list four characteristics of the voice you want to capture: Velocity of language. Verbosity (including the types of words used). Viewpoint – are we up close, or very removed, what person? Vision – what kinds of things does the narrative voice OBSERVE? Write for a while and then foreground a moment or object by playing a variation in voice against the rest of the text.

Velocity: Swift. Short sentences, simple ideas. Short attention-span.
Verbosity: Simple words. Slightly more refined ideas on smell and sound.
Viewpoint: Immediate. Very close.
Vision: Concerned primarily with sound and scent; sight a lesser concern.

(I apologise in advance for the general lack of coherence; it’s set toward the end of a novel from the perspective of a relatively unfamiliar character.)

The forest is dim. Full of sound. Full of movement. Rin trots, nose to breeze, ears straining. Hungry. Scuffling leaves and bark this way, musk-scent and loam: badger. Rin slows. Feet soft. Tail straight. Head low. Stalking.

Stop. Bristle. Badgers are large; large as Rin. Grumpy. Claws. Rin circles, quietly, quietly. Smaller game is best. Rin is only a puppy. Rin pads on. Rin smells mushrooms. Weasel musk. Rotting leaves, rotting wood. Hears humming. Buzzing. Music. Bees. Follows the sound. Watches the hive. Hungry. Rin moves on.

The sun comes up. The forest gets lighter. Warmer. Quieter. Rin huffs. Hunting is bad in daylight. Rin shifts. Pushes off, balances on two feet. Human nose is bad for smelling. Human ears are worse for hearing, but not bad. Rin hears footsteps. Many feet, no rhythm. Rin hears human feet. Light and heavy. Rin cracks branches as Rin walks. Closer. Teeth bare. Shoulders hunch. Rin smells flowers. Rin smells water. Rin smells dead things. Dry things. Old bones. Rin steps closer, and Rin smells nothing interesting, hears nothing interesting. There is nothing interesting here; Rin should go home. Rin steps back. Rin wants to go home. Nothing to hunt, here. Nothing to smell.

Rin sees movement. Rin turns. There is a squirrel. The squirrel freezes. There is nothing interesting here, no interesting smells or sounds; Rin should go home. Rin watches the squirrel. Rin steps closer. The squirrel scurries away. Still, there is nothing interesting here; nothing to chase, nothing to hunt, nothing to smell. Rin tilts Rin’s head. Listens hard.

Here there is silence. No scent. No heartbeats. No breathing. Rin steps forward. There is nothing interesting here; Rin should go home. Rin turns toward home. Rin pivots. Leaps. Strikes.

The air yelps, flickers. Two people fall. Rin snarls. Rin hunkers down, palms to earth. Rin scurries backward toward nothing, nothing at all, and nothing at all grabs Rin by the back of the neck. Rin dangles. Whimpers. Smells fish flesh. Dead flesh. Human flesh. Flowers. Sweat. Mud. Water.

Water holds Rin tightly. Water’s fingers are sharp. Water glares. “Your glamour could use refining,” Water says. “She smelled you.”


( 60 gil — she will supply )
Mar. 11th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
It's not bad! I like the use of short sentences. You kept me reading, that's a good thing :)
Mar. 11th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
I think my only real problem with it is that everything there makes perfect sense to me because I know the rest of the story - but I don't think it makes much sense if you don't. I guess I'll find out on Friday.
Mar. 12th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
OOH OOH is Water Sanga? :D Who's hiding, and whyyyy? I love that puppy Rin smelled him or her. Not so hidden as they thought~. ^.^ The end was my favorite bit, but really, you did an excellent job of leading up to it and making the puppy perspective really mean something. You know? ^.^
Mar. 12th, 2008 07:36 am (UTC)
This is a switched-perspective piece on the part of AtM where Rin stumbles upon Hiru, Sanga, Tol and Ban just before they start heading west to Thinner South. Rin's recognising them based on scents: Sanga's water, Hiru's flowers, Ban is dead things, and Tol is, clearly, human.

Hiru's glamour was the one that gave them away, which is amusing only because Sanga gets all growly about Hiru being inept without ever realising that Hiru has been maintaining a flawless glamour all about himself and that this scene involved an illusion within an illusion. XD As Rin later explains, the forest changed to say 'nothing, nothing', but the forest is never like that, so she knew her mind was being played with.
Mar. 12th, 2008 08:15 am (UTC)
The whole tone and flow of the piece speaks of a mind running in instinct and I love that <3
Mar. 12th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, good. That's what I was going for. XD
( 60 gil — she will supply )