Voice (Differences in Short Story and Novel Writing)


For my Irish fiction class this past week we read the novel Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe. The story starts with a brief history of Irish revolution and then launches straight into this voice:

“Although I’m afraid I don’t get too many clients these days! I can just imagine the reaction of my old acquaintance is they saw me now, sitting here in my silly old coat and headscarf–off out that door and down London’s Kilburn High Road with the lot of them, no doubt! Still, no point in complaining–after all, every beauty has to lose her looks sometime and if the gold-digging days of poor old darling poo poo puss are gone for ever, well then, so be it.”

Raise your hand if you’re exhausted. These two sentences alone are filled with exclamations, interjections, extra words, and weird syntax, forcing the reader to work really hard to get what’s going on. There is justification for the voice: the manuscript is supposedly the autobiography of an Irish transvestite who is a former prostitute and suspected IRA terrorist. Certainly, this character would have her/his own crazy voice, and certainly her syntax skills would not be quite up to snuff. The idea behind this voice is great.

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