February 6, 2020


By Vicki H. Moss   @vickiMoss
Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Continued from my January 9, 2020 post—I’ll start you out on the first paragraph again to refresh your memory:

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.

“…Sunday Justice…(I love that name for a feline character), sleeping on the windowsill, flowed to the floor and walked to Kya.”—Dogs don’t flow. But by golly, cat’s do. Love this one! And Delia spent enough time in Africa, observing big cats, to describe them to flowing perfection.  

“But the azaleas and rosebushes next to the house sulked in weeds.”—And it was while reading this line, I understood exactly what my azalea bushes had been doing out in the garden all summer before I pulled weeds and mulched. Can’t have sulking azaleas. Camellias either.

“Late one evening she took her first novel, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, from Ma’s bookshelf and read about love.”—This was simply precious to me because I was that same young girl who had taken that same book from my own mother’s bookshelf to read about love. Long sigh. Delia’s going to make me cry before this book is over—I just know it. *reaching for Kleenex*

“…beached as gently as a first kiss.”—Anyone out there ever gently beached a boat on the sand and can say, Absolutely an on-point way to describe gently beaching a boat!

“The tin roof sang under a light rain.”—I’ve slept many a time beneath a tin roof singing from rain so this line tumbled in some memories from long ago. Does this line not make you want to go to a mountain cabin with a tin roof on a rainy weekend? Gotta go find the bug spray and pack. No, gotta keep reading until the end.

And this next line is simply spectacular. –“Many times she’d seen marsh waters swallow yesterday’s story.”—Oh. My. All I’m going to say. 

“…the hardened rinds of her heart held her back.”—Are you picturing dried out ready-for-the-compost-pile melon rinds cupping Kya’s heart?

“…swearing at the shreds of cruel hope…”—I can visualize those shreds I just threw away after emptying my shredder as sure as I’m typing this and thinking about just how cruel hope can sometimes be. 

“She glanced at the half-empty mugs, lip-drips running down the rims.”—Lip-drips? So that’s what you call them! Delia shows those lip-drips to us, bringing those café-au-lait (or black without cream, but I vote for café-au-lait) drips up close and personal. I’m visualizing one of those old heavy French Quarter restaurant-style white coffee mugs with lip-drips, what are you visualizing?

I hope these short examples pulled from a Delia Owens bestseller give you a better idea of what “writing with voice” entails. Now go flow over to your writing desk and show me with words what your azaleas were secretly doing all summer.

Happy writing trails!  

--Permission given by Penguin Random House to use above excerpts from Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  


Writing With Voice - Part Two Vicki H. Moss (click to tweet)


  1. Great post Vicki. Enjoyed it. What wonderful excerpts you chose to share with us. Makes me want to write more.

    You have always written with great voice.