• Melissa Volker

Writing with an Ear


When asked about my writing, I usually say I think of it as painting with words. That I strive to craft my prose with an eye toward imagery that is akin to a painter and their choice of color, and brush stroke.

While that is certainly true -- I do take time to choose words with care, to find the word that not only says exactly what I want to say, but also in a way that evokes an image -- I realized recently that it is not the whole...picture. That I only partially write with an eye toward imagery. That what is even more crucial to me, what I do even more, is write with an ear toward sound and feeling.

I can hear the rhythm, cadence and melody of certain words strung together in a certain order. I can hear how the sound of the right words have a tempo, a sound that goes beyond evoking imagery, to creating an experience of mood, feelings and sensations.

I will write a passage, but when I go back over it I'll see where words would go better in a different order, or how adding or dropping one, or changing one or two, or repeating a phrase, suddenly creates a flow that trips and travels through the reader's ears like -- like music. Then string those groups of words with others and suddenly there's a run of rhythm, pacing, lyricism that reaches beyond the ear and into the heart, the soul, and elicits a sense not only of place and time, but of emotion, sensation -- so very much more than simple imagery. Like...well...like music.

You feel my writing in your bones, experience it with more than your senses. Like music.

So while I've always described myself as a literary painter, I now know that is only a partial truth. That the heart and soul of my approach to writing is that of composer.

Words are my instruments, and my works are my symphonies.


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© 2016 Melissa Volker

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