You’re trying to write the GAM (great American novel), but you can’t concentrate. Why? Someone in an adjacent room sits clicking through Viagra ads. The surfing stops and you hear an announcer say something about a family network. When the commercial ends, you’re pretty sure you recognize the British-accented voice that’s saying, “spit-spot,” and “practically perfect in every way.” It has to be your favorite nanny.
The clicking resumes.
Now another nanny’s voice grates through the walls with a Jersey “Oh-h-h-h, Mr. Sheffield!” followed by a snorty little snigger.
Next thing you hear, Tony Soprano’s asking, “How you doin’?” before ordering calzone. Capisce?
The time you’ve lost may actually help you write better if you focus on how spoken voice is to TV what written voice is to novel-writing. “Voice” shows up in each character’s use—or non-use—of accent, pet phrases, favorite subjects, metaphor, slang, vocabulary, contractions, sentence structure, and even …