Have you ever been sitting peacefully on your bed in your room, when your mother or father enters unexpectedly with a demoralizing speech at hand about how you failed to do a simple chore like taking out the trash or cleaning the cat’s litter-box? If you do, try to remember their tone of voice. It wasn’t pleasant, was it? In cases such as this, an authority figure uses inflections in his or her voice in order to inspire feelings of negativity, guilt, and sorrow in their audience (you). Although in this case the use of the voice is being used to carry out a punishment, it is used in an unbelievable variety, everywhere you look.
When a movie producer scouts talent for a movie, they study the ability of actors and actresses to use their facial expressions, body expressions, and voices. Just like parts of the body, the voice is an expressive tool used to display an unlimited amount of emotions and feelings. This is something that Sarah Koenig uses to her advantage in Serial. Koenig’s inclusion of various characters and their voices allows her listeners to hear the emotions of her subjects in the truest nature. The audience of Serial needs little imagination in order to comprehend and enjoy the podcast fully. But does Sarah do this in order to establish a story that’s unique, or is it just her intention to project her own feelings to the story?
When Sarah uses these hauntingly realistic samples of characters in her podcast, she keeps the story in her control, choosing carefully from her arsenal of dialogues. Along with projecting the emotions of the characters in the story, Koenig constantly interacts with her audience, subtly sneaking her emotions into the listener’s head.
Now the real question is: is it better to be overloaded with true emotion, or rather leave the interpretation of emotion up to the reader? Whether you are reading the manuscript of Serial by the fireplace with a cup of cocoa, or on a train listening to the sweet voice of Sarah Koenig whilst admiring the scenery of the earth from your tiny window-seat view, you will be entrapped by the case of Adnan. Isn’t this the purpose of a good story?
With the debate on if the inclusion of a literal narrative voice in storytelling is better or not, I am still indifferent. Everyone has a mind that is their own and unique to themselves. While one audience may enjoy little effort and interpretation in the story they are choosing to divulge themselves into, another may prefer to look at the story from a perspective that is their own. Reading text on a page gives the reader an ability to interpret the story in whichever way they choose, receiving minimal emotional bias from the storyteller.
This is, in my personal opinion, why hard-copy books will never be abolished. Listening to an audiobook or podcast is far superior in terms of efficiency and effort, but it cannot compete (once again in my opinion), with the joy a reader feels while attempting to decode the character’s true nature that the author intended to give them.
Serial epitomizes the word “creative” when used to describe nonfiction, and is a work of CNF that represents how the genre, when executed well, can be extremely successful in enticing its audience and describing a story in the realest sense.