“Come with me,” said the stranger. His voice was deep brown, coffee and corduroy, with a rasp at the very edge of it.
I’ve been thinking about voices and how we describe them. Voices are shrill and strident, high and low, they rumble like cars and drone like insects. We can talk about them in terms of texture; they can be soft as feathers, or rough like sandpaper. We compare them to fabrics; smooth as silk, or rich and velvet. Voices can be like honey or wine, evoking our sense of taste. Or they can be likened to color; rich brown earthy voices, silver bell-like voices. Voices affect us; they send tingles down our spine and chills all over our bodies, they can soothe or grate or drive us mad with monotones.
Trying to describing voices is kind of like trying to describe wines. Sometimes, you have to get past the “oaken notes” and the “mellow honeyed aftertaste” and “smooth body and rich finish” and just drink the thing. Or in the case of a voice, hear it.
Which is hard to do when your medium is words on a page.
I can’t make a reader hear the voice in my head, but I can give an approximation in terms of shared experiences. Remember the way really fine chocolate melts in your mouth? Well, if taste were a sound, it would be the sound of this voice. Remember that stern teacher voice that always makes you feel like a school-going kid again? Well, this voice does it, too.
Do you know of any voices that are so distinctive that they make you think instantly of apples, or fingernails on chalkboard, or ice and crystal, or whatever? Do you writers have any characters whose voices are a important distinguishing feature?
Huh! Voice as color. That’s neat. Good thought!
Oh yeah, voices are very important — and so dang hard to describe sometimes. I really like your examples though, as they help me think outside the “sound” box.
Thanks! I admit I might’ve been influence by the vanessa williams’ “color of the wind” song (the one from disney’s pocahontas).