On writing “visually” vs. “with a voice”

On writing “visually” vs. “with a voice”

Have you ever read a story where the writer tells every single thing that the character is doing throughout the entire narrative?

Bob walked over to the window and gazed outside. He took a deep breath and wondered why his life sucked so much. He sighed loudly.

I’ve seen loads of stories with this style of writing, and personally, I think it’s a teensy bit annoying, especially when the sentences are constantly short and cause the flow of the story to seem all choppy.

Then Bob climbed out the window. He walked over to his neighbor’s house and stuck his head through the open window. He shouted random words that popped into his head. The neighbor was shocked. Why was there a shirtless man shouting through her window? She grabbed a shotgun and aimed. Bob decided to flee.

I’m almost cerain that you’ve read stories with this “style” of writing, and chances are that you were a bit annoyed as well. It’s not fun to read a story that concentrates way too much on the visuals; on the small things that the characters are physically doing.

green eye

Anyways, I call this type of writing “visual writing”, because the writers write down everything that’s going on in their mind. It’s like a movie inside their brain, and they’re trying to put down every single step and yawn and wonder and gaze on the paper.

But I want to add something important: Writing like this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not bad as long as you’re only doing it during the first drafts. Once you finished first your draft written with extreme detail to an excessively-high word count, begin to write down everything with your own voice. Pretend that you’re telling the story to a bunch of people sitting around a campfire in the middle of the woods and shock them with your plot twists and choice of words.

Imagine that you’ve just watched a movie and that a friend that hasn’t seen it wants you to talk about it. I’m pretty sure that you won’t go babbling on about every single move that the actors did in the film; you would instead tell the plot of the film with your own words without too many details, but still, you would make sure that the message of the movie will sink into your listener’s mind. That’s exactly what you want to do with your writing. You want to tell a story with fluid sentences that don’t stagger the mind, without adding too much attention on the visuals or moves of the characters.

So I encourage you to help out new writers by giving them feedback on their stuff. If you see that their sentences are too choppy or that they put in too much detail, point it out for them and pressure them into finding their voice. Many writers don’t realize their “mistakes” when they’re making them, so it would be great if they had someone to help them out once in a while. Open their eyes with your experience; it’s one of the greatest gifts that you can give to another writer, and I can assure you that they’ll be grateful for it.

-Ralph Serr

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3 thoughts on “On writing “visually” vs. “with a voice”

  1. Yep, it comes down to authors having to realize that reader imagination can be trusted. I think reading a lot is essential, too. You learn so much by reading the work of other authors. I sometimes type out chapters from published works and then break them down and analyze description, vocabulary and dialogue use. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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