That voice was a deathless song…

Who said that about whom? Of course, that’s how F. Scott Fitzgerald, through Nick, described Daisy Buchanan’s voice in The Great Gatsby.

Later, we read her voice described this way, the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again…

And, because I can’t stop myself, [T]here was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

Fitzgerald is showing us how the world sees Daisy, how Gatsy sees her, and how Nick sees her – at the beginning of the book, and then at the conclusion. It’s used as a symbol for each man. For Nick, it symbolized everlasting youth – because he was young. For Gatsby, that voice held the American Dream – which was his dream. So how can we mere mortal writers make our characters’ voices work harder for us?

A super smart writer, Nicholas Rossis, in Athens, Greece!, helps us here. Below are some examples from his list that I use when I get stuck:

appealing (adj): an appealing look/voice shows that you want help, approval, or agreement
dead (adj): if someone’s eyes or voice are dead, they feel or show no emotion
flat (adj): spoken in a voice that does not go up and down; this word is often used for describing the speech of people from a particular region
gravelly (adj): a gravelly voice sounds low and rough
honeyed (adj): honeyed words or a honeyed voice sound very nice, but you cannot trust the person who is speaking
husky (adj): a husky voice is deep and sounds hoarse (as if you have a sore throat), often in an attractive way
low (adj): a low voice is quiet and difficult to hear; also used for describing a deep voice that has a long wavelength
matter-of-fact (adj): usually used if the person speaking knows what they are talking about (or absolutely think they know what they are talking about)
penetrating (adj): a penetrating voice is so high or loud that it makes you slightly uncomfortable
plummy (adj): a plummy voice or way of speaking is considered to be typical of an English person of a high social class; this word shows that you dislike people who speak like this
raucous (adj): a raucous voice or noise is loud and sounds rough
small (adj): a small voice is quiet
smoky (adj): a smoky voice is sexually attractive in a slightly mysterious way
stentorian (adj): a stentorian voice sounds very loud and severe
taut (adj): used about something such as a voice that shows someone is nervous or angry
thick (adj): if your voice is thick with an emotion, it sounds less clear than usual because of the emotion

Happy writing,


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