Sunday Reflections on Voice

Just taking a moment to reflect on voice. Voice is a super important aspect of writing and what makes an author unique. I definitely have favorite authors and their voices are part of why I love them. Meanwhile, there are others I don’t enjoy as much and sometimes it is their voice I don’t care for. But what is voice?

While the term “voice” seems easy enough to understand, the more I think about it the more complex it is. It is the sum of all the choices a writer makes. It is the specific words that are chosen, the punctuation used, the balance between narrative and dialogue and dozens of other, sometimes subtle, characteristics of their writing. This has me really reflecting on first, the voice of the writers I really like, second, what my voice is beginning to sounds like and third, whether it is the voice I want or if I should try to shape it into something else.

I thought about George Orwell, for sure one of my top three writers. His writing was very witty. His analogy in Animal Farm and the short story “Shooting an Elephant” was masterful. 1984 was not only prophetic but also brilliant. He uses certain words regularly like “countenance.” His real brilliance though is in his portrayal of suffering, internal conflict and in creating tragedy. He is a realist and his stories are very relatable. His endings are never happy, but then, in my experience happy endings are few and far between.

Another of my favorites is John Steinbeck. He too is a realist and his stories are about people and our struggles. Steinbeck was fantastic at illustrating human pain and conflict and his work is immortal. There are no happy endings in Steinbeck’s work either. There is mostly pain and the acceptance of suffering as part of the human condition but he brilliantly wrote about how people endure and even overcome the pain of our world.

Lastly, I love Mark Twain. He is very different from my previous two and is much more of an optimist. Twain was absolutely hilarious. His wit and humor are to be admired and emulated. Most are familiar with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is my favorite Twain book. So sarcastic and clever. Twain also had a tendency toward run on sentences. Comma after comma after comma and before you know it, an entire paragraph was only one sentence. It was all part of his voice and I love it.

So where am I? Well, I for sure sense that my voice has solidified a little. The Sureshot Rises was mostly written years ago while I was very young and completely unaware of voice and had basically no idea what I was doing. In rewrites, including the most recent this year as I published it, it contained more of my voice and reflected my story telling style better but still, I would say my voice is naive and weak in that work. In Sureshot the Assassin the voice is stronger but still forming. It better reflects my affinity towards realism and tragedy that the authors I adore were masters of. Since then I’ve done a ton of writing. Especially in the last year. As a result I’ve become mindful of my voice as it solidifies and strengthens and I’m not disappointed.

So far my story telling is characterized by a decent ability to describe scenes and people using analogy and simile. I actually intentionally compare people to an animal and then use those characteristics to help form the character. I spend a bit of time trying to connect the reader to the senses through my writing as a way to elicit emotions. I lean towards the dark tragedy of humanity as a theme in my writing. I would love to get to the point where my writing reflects the realism of the authors I value so highly. I also tend to write deep and flawed characters trying to not only show the external conflicts they have to deal with but also the internal ones we all wrestle with. It’s real. That’s what I’m going for.

I’m going to be mindful moving forward and really monitor my voice try to find ways to improve but then also be true to it. My goal at the moment is to try to meld the tragedy with the humor and wit that Twain had. I’m a funny dude and I want that to be reflected in my work. No matter what, It’ll be fun and I’m enjoying the journey. Cheers.

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Join the adventure!

Summer is here, time for some summer reading!

Get The Sureshot Rises And Sureshot the Assassin today and enjoy the adventure now!

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Poem: Empty

Like a desert dry and desolate.

My soul anguishes indefinite.

A plaything for your endless torment.

You could save my spirit make me whole.

Yet you make my suffering your goal.

Forever devouring my soul.

I can endure no more of this pain.

I beg, do not punish me again.

I’m dead inside, now you can refrain.

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Korn Somebody, Someone

I love strong lyrics in songs. Been listening to this and letting the anger flow just like in my youth. Feels great. The lyrics are poetry, filled with hurt and pain.

I can’t stand to let you win

I’m just watching you

And I don’t know what to do

Feeling like a fool inside

Feeling all the love you hide

Thought you were my friend

Seems it never ends

I need somebody, someone

Can somebody help me?

All I need is some pain

Not just for me

Giving you with this and that

Giving gave nothing back

It’s all related to

All the things I do

Feeling like a fool inside

Seeing all the things you tried

I am nothing

I need somebody, someone

Can somebody help me?

All I need is some pain

Not just for me

I look, I sign

I need someone

Inside to help me out

With what

I’m trying

I’m crying

I’m frying

In a pile of

Shit

I’m dying

I’m dying

I’m dying

I need somebody, someone, somebody, somebody, someone

I need somebody, someone, somebody, somebody, someone

Someone

Songwriters: Brian Welch / David Randall Silveria / James Christian Shaffer / Jonathan Howsman Davis / Reginald Arvizu

Somebody Someone lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

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The Enchanter

Just playing with a new character I’ve been thinking about for a week or so. Could be a lot of fun to write stories for him.

There was a tall tower made of stone that rose from the otherwise untamed landscape. Few knew about it at all, even fewer could find it. Besides the fact that it was far from organized society, its creator and master guarded it with an enchantment that disguised it further, making it appear like the trees that surrounded it unless you were very near. Many times, curious explorers and adventurers walked by the tower without the slightest notion that it was there.

The master of the tower was renown by those who believed he existed. Many figured he was a myth, but indeed he was alive and well. The secrecy and camouflage that enveloped the tower was purely do to its master’s business.

Inside the tower a man with a completely smooth bald head and smooth face worked in the highest room from which he could see for miles in all directions. The room was littered with various gems and items. Virtually everything could be found there from a variety of arms and armor to jewelry and articles of clothing. Anything a person could wield or wear was available to the master of the tower. At the top of the tower the man who dwelled there took ordinary items and transformed them into weapons and clothing of tremendous power and prestige. In the tower lived and worked the greatest enchanter the land had ever known. His enchantments were the best and most demanded in the world and so his life became simultaneously renowned and dangerous. His name was Borisov and there was as much mystery surrounding him as there was the enchantments he created.

Curses and crashes came from the room as the master worked trying to find the correct equation for making an item.

“Why did I take this order?” he grumbled as he ran his hand across his smooth head. “This is a pointless item anyways.” The enchanter held up a crown adorned with gems and glared at the stones. “Trash. Greedy gnomes selling me worthless gems. That’s the last time I do any business with them. Dwarves only from now on.” He yanked a topaz from a setting in the crown and threw it across the room where is shattered.

Borisov stomped to a corner were there were a variety of bowls filled with gems of various shapes and sizes. His eyes were squinted and sharp as he dug through the various bowls searching for just the right gem. He pulled several and considered them before he tossed them back with a huff. At last one caught his eye and he pulled it from the group and held it high allowing the light to refract through it. He smiled and then rushed back to the crown and carefully placed the stone in the empty setting.

Borisov held up the crown and studied it carefully. It was forged from a gold alloy making it lighter and stronger while just as brilliant as gold ought to be. It contained five stones in all, each different. They were an emerald, a topaz, an opal, a ruby and a large sapphire in the center. It was a crown befitting the most glorious of kings.

Borisov placed it in the center of a round table carved from petrified redwood and adorned with stones of its own. Even the simplest of beings could feel the magical aura emitted from the table. But the table alone was just the cradle for the Enchanter’s creations.

Once the beautiful crown was placed on the center of the enchanter’s table, Borisov strolled over to a robe hanging on a hook by the door. It was brightly colored and woven from the fibers collected from many magical creatures some of which were now extinct. Hunted for their magical properties and unique characteristics these creatures once roamed the world in peace and freedom.

Robe pulled tight around his neck and secured around his body, Borisov could feel the power flowing through him. It was simultaneously invigorating and exhausting. The robe was so enchanted that it surged energy from the lost beasts through his body but mortal bodies could not endure the aura for long.

Borisov opened his eyes and they glowed as did his flesh while his muscles swelled and his heart raced. He moved to the enchanting table and held the crown while he checked the list of enchantments he wrote out for this job. He reviewed the words that few could read and began to recite them.

After a few times through the list he had the words committed to memory and he closed his eyes and continued to chant them to himself while feeling energy flow through his body and into the crown. Bright light poured from his hands and the crown with its gems glowed brightly.

Borisov continued to chant the words as magical energy raced to fill the crown and its gems which soaked it up like a sponge soaks up water. The Enchanter swayed from side to side some while became one with the crown and could sense and feel every inch of it as though he were part of the precious metal.

The Enchanter began to note some weakness in his knees but he refused to succumb to the increasing weariness while he was still able to channel more energy into the crown. It glowed bright white and finally Borisov released the crown and stumbled backwards until he collapsed on a couch nearby. He pulled the robe from his shoulders and dragged a blanket onto himself as he peacefully slipped into a dream with a smile on his face knowing that his creation was indeed another masterpiece.

The Enchanter had earned his slumber.

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TBT: The Sureshot Rises

From The Sureshot Rises on this TBT. Enjoy!

Karr stopped them before reaching the man. The bowman held his massive bow up to shoot. It was finely crafted and had metal plating at the handle and tips. Durbar had never seen a bow that incorporated metal before and wondered what the purpose was, but let it go as decoration. The giant man pulled back on his massive bow and loosed an arrow. It flew with amazing speed and struck the target just outside the center circle, driving the entire tip of the arrow into the wood. The spectators cheered and the man held up his bow in response.

Karr was clapping lightly having seen the man shoot better. “Captain Tarbon,” called the general, “come here. There is someone you have to meet.” Turning, bow in hand, the man came over to Karr and Durbar and saluted the general. Karr returned the salute.

“General Karr, what brings you out to the range?” the bowman asked.

“Well, this here is Durbar, the prince’s mysterious Sureshot that he has been talking about for the last few months. The prince wants us to allow him to train here before the competition. Word is that he is taking your place on his team.”

The huge man towered above Durbar by about five inches. He glared down at him with fiery blue eyes. His face was square and flat and looked to Durbar as if it had been pressed that way.

“So, this is the man Rothan thinks is better than me, eh?” he questioned in a deep voice, almost a growl.

“The prince’s opinions are his own,” answered Durbar.

“Well, what do you think?” Tarbon asked pointing a finger at Durbar’s chest.

“I know that I am better than you.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” the man roared leaning back, holding his belly with one hand as if to keep it from bursting open. “And how do you know that? You just met me and you have never seen me shoot.”

“I saw you just now.”

“And after just one shot you know you can beat me?”

“Yes.”

“Well, if you are so sure, Mister Sureshot, then let’s have a little competition right now.”

Durbar was really starting to hate his new alias. “I will not decline,” he answered confidently.

“Good! General Karr would you kindly judge our shots and determine the winner?” Tarbon requested?

“Of course I will Tarbon, but are you sure you want to do this right now?” the general questioned his voice lacking its normal rumble.

“Why not? I want to show all of the men that I am still the best archer in Harmon.”

“As you wish.” He thought for a moment. “Let’s make this easy. Ten arrows at the one-hundred-and-fifty-foot target. Ten points for a hit in the innermost ring, eight points for the second ring and so on. The man with the most points after ten shots wins, simple. You can use your own bows but not your own arrows. I will give each of you ten arrows made here at the garrison. Do you both understand?” The instructions were, of course, for Durbar’s benefit and not the captain.

Both men nodded. By this time, word of the Tarbon-Durbar match up had spread like a wildfire, and everyone in the near vicinity had gathered to watch their captain and the challenger, Sureshot, compete in a pre-competition match.

“Good. Tarbon take row three; Durbar, row four,” Karr ordered. The general called a couple of men and told them to clear the targets, get the men a ten-arrow quiver, and move everyone into the stands. As they were preparing the range, Durbar strung his bow and pulled back the string a few times to loosen it up and make sure it was secure. The range was finally set up and each man stood ready.

General Karr announced, “Okay, men, I expect that each of you will be courteous to the other while shooting. Captain Tarbon, since this is your range, you can start.”

“It would be my pleasure, General,” snorted the captain.

The archer stood at the edge of the shooters’ line, notched an arrow, drew his bow and loosed the arrow at the target one hundred and fifty feet away. The arrow flew fast and struck the innermost ring, scoring ten points for Tarbon. The crowd roared. Tarbon stepped back away from the line and Durbar stepped up. He notched his arrow and drew his bow. With both eyes open, he aimed at the target. He loosed the arrow and it struck the second circle on the target. The crowd cheered again as he only scored eight for that shot. Both men hit the first circle on their second and third shot. On the fourth shot, Tarbon shot high and hit the second circle. Durbar hit the first circle, tying the score.

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TBT: Poem Nature’s Gifts, Nurtures Lessons

A young boy bright and strong,

A young boy average in every way,

Full of joy and full of song,

He loved to run around and play,

A boy who seemed to do nothing wrong,

A simple boy who lived only for the next day.

Parents push the boy harder and harder,

They let the boy live life for his self,

The boy’s performance got better and better,

With some love and care and a little help,

The pressure was getting even heavier,

Throughout his childhood his parents love was felt.

Living with some friends in disarray,

Average still, though he got a degree,

Drinking and doing lines every day,

Yet like any bird he is completely free,

The child needed to find his own way,

Love and care is what all children need.

Poor parenting destroyed the talents given by nature.

An average child succeeded with a little nurture.

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