Elements of Voice. Elements of Voice. Writing with a clear voice doesn’t just happen; it requires conscious choices You must practice the basic elements of voice. DICTION. Diction refers to the choice of words and is the foundation of voice and all good writing. Diction Exercise.
The poem is relatively brief, with clipped-sounding lines, and its language is for the most part reflective of a child’s vocabulary and thus a child’s perspective. Most of the words are monosyllabic, and if they are longer they are disyllabic, with one notable exception: the word countenance in line 7. The unusual diction in lines 6 and 7 stand out and give special weight to that section of the poem.“My Papa’s Waltz”Theodore Roethke
This understated observation emphasizes that we are partially, even largely, in the mind of a child in this poem. There are more precise ways to describe the dance, but a child would probably not use a more sophisticated vocabulary.
lines 7/8 - "My mother’s countenance / Could not unfrown itself."
These are unusual and arresting lines in terms of diction, and they signal a change in the poem. Not only is countenance a relatively unusual word for facial expression, but the idea that the countenance has control over itself is odd. Also, unfrown is a made-up word, albeit one whose meaning is clear enough. These lines give special emphasis to the speaker’s consciousness of his mother. She is not mentioned anywhere else in the poem, but her disapproval of this scene and her apparent inability to do anything about it except scowl intensify the danger of the situation. If there is something potentially tragic about the interaction between father and child, there is also an audience forthe tragedy.
2). Find other parts of the poem in which diction is important. What do they contribute to the work?Questions for Response
Which details support the attitude that the narrator used to like having her hair cut? Write those details and talk about their effectiveness.
Which detail changes the direction of the passage? Note that the narrator’s reason for not liking haircuts anymore is not explained. Nevertheless, you know what has happened. What effect does that have on you, the reader?
Write a paragraph using details to capture the reasons why you like a particular sport. Don’t explain why you like the sport. Instead, use details to show the reader what you like about the sport. If you want to experiment, try shifting the focus of your paragraph as Voigt does in her paragraph.Detail – Read and Think
Write all of the vivid details in the passage. How do the details help you understand the focus of the passage?
There are several contrasting details in the passage, details that give two completely different pictures of the man. Identify contrasting details and discuss what these contrasts add to the over-all effect of the description.
Write a similar paragraph about an old cat. Use lots of vivid detail.Detail – Read and Think
Notice that the first sentence does not mention specific plants, but the second sentence mentions several desert animals. Why do you think Saroyan does this:
Write two sentences describing your room. The first sentence should be a simple statement of what’s in the room (It was full of. . .). The second should use lots of detail to capture a particular aspect of the room (your posters, your clothes, your collection of something, of the like). The finish the paragraph.
driest – It was full of every kind. . .earth.
loneliest – The space over. . .buzzards.
-- It was a region of loneliness,
emptiness. . ..
loveliest - It was full. . .earth.
It was overrun. . .life.
2. Too much detail can detract from the impact of the scene. In addition, too much detail can overwhelm the reader and turn a description into a catalogue, without focus or purpose. By selecting his detail, Saroyan determines the reader’s focus. Perhaps Saroyan chose to emphasize the animal life of the desert to emphasize the human connection. He sets the stage simply, giving the reader a brief look at the stark beauty of the land.
Think of one word to describe the dog in this passage. Which details in the passage support your choice of words.
The details of this passage describe the dog from the outside (his coat) in –through his skin to his bones. How do these details affect the reader’s attitude toward the dog?
Rewrite the passage eliminating all of the specific detail. Discuss the change in impact and meaning.Read and Think
it is a literal statement.
Identify two examples of figurative language in the passage.
What does the figurative language add to the passage?
Rewrite the passage without any figurative language. Contrast your sentence with the original. Talk about the differences with a partner.Read and Think
It grew lushly, but only in the
Betty Smith A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
All this last day Frodo had not spoken, but had walked half-bowed, often stumbling, as if his eyes o longer say the way before his feet. Sam guessed that among all their pains he bore the worst, the growing weight of the Ring, a burden on the body and a torment to his mind.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of
description, use the rainbow to
symbolize hope for better times ahead.
Kate could see her searching through the cabin, emptying drawers and taking things off of the shelves of cabinets.