Narration or Voice?

Keeping it short and sweet today! This is my best explanation for what I call “tutorial voice.”

Tutorial voice is a passive, play-by-play narration to the reader of a character’s actions. This voice also uses jargon instead to description.

Example: Emma executed a one-two-one combination on the man in black, quickly followed by a side kick and a jab to the ribs. Her tornado kick ended him.

Descriptive example: Emma hammered the man in black with three quick punches. She followed it up with a kick and a jab to the ribs. Leaping, Emma whirled through the air with a blow that ended him.

Even with descriptive voicing you have to be careful, otherwise you can end up with over-description. Summarizing is another way to fix tutorial voicing, but you can also over-summarize.

Over-Summary: Emma beat up the man in black.

Better Summary: Emma threw a handful of punches and kicks that quickly ended the man in black.

Of course, the type of voicing you use depends entirely on the genre you’re writing in. For middle grade, summarizing can work just fine, and over-summarizing can be used as voice depending on your situation. Adult or young adult fiction can lean toward the more descriptive style, but no matter the case, make sure your voice is active instead of passive.

We’ll touch more on voice in a few weeks.

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