By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
If only I’d read Delia Owens’ book before publishing my book, Writing with Voice. But unfortunately Where the Crawdads Sing wasn’t published until 2018 so I didn’t have Delia’s wonderful examples of “writing with voice” to give you, so I’ll take this opportunity to show, not tell, on the Suite T blog.
For one, after reading Where the Crawdads Sing, it’s obvious why the book has—so far—sold four million copies in the U.S., and stayed on the NYT bestseller list for a year. It’s also a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick. But besides story, what made this book so special for a first novel and now a movie to be produced by Witherspoon?
Below I’ll list some of a few lines that stand out for me.
“…necklace of green lagoons.” Rather than the overused and tired “string of green lagoons,” the word “necklace” is a gold nugget plucked straight from a mountain vein and inserted right here.
“Just like their whiskey, the marsh dwellers bootlegged their own laws.” She nailed that one. And if you’ve ever had a bootlegger in your ancestry, you don’t have to hunt up that word.
“…Ma’s words needed somewhere to go.” I’m feeling Ma on that one.
“…lips a thin line under searching eyes.” I’ve seen those lips before, haven’t you? The thin line goes right with the searching. Do plump lips ever match searching eyes? Not as hard as thin lip lines do I’ll wager.
“She anchored him hard with her eyes.” Eyes like that will not even let a barge drift. She doesn’t have to tell us what color those eyes are because that dude’s going nowhere until the anchor’s dislodged.
“Quiet tongues of foam, waiting for the next surge.”—I can see those tongues of foam moving over sand can’t you?
“…hunger was a pushing thing.”—Yes, hunger definitely makes you rouse yourself to get up and move to do something about those pangs. Brilliant use of words.
“She could feel that full gravy taste, like it was round.”—Okay. Laughing and loving on this example because a true gravy-eating-Southerner would truly understand this down to the last cathead biscuit crumb. Now, all ya’ll who aren’t into gravy go learn how to fix some—it takes practice—so you’ll know what Kya’s character is talking about. I’m so craving gravy and biscuits right now!
Delia’s making her readers go to the kitchen for a cast iron skillet and some bacon grease—no wait, gotta keep turning those pages to see what will happen next! Gravy’s gonna have to wait ‘til this book is finished.
And so sorry, but you’ll have to wait until my February post to read the ending of this story because there were too many jewels to leave out! To be continued in February 6, 2020
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