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Voice Workshop with Agent Jill Corcoran

How to Improve Your Writing Voice and Characters’ Voices

Agent Jill Corcoran at the 2012 FL SCBWI Conference in Miami

Jill Corcoran talked about the difference between the author voice, which is in everything you write, and the manuscript voice, which changes according to things like tone, the target audience, and point of view.

She had us write a short scene with two characters from one point of view, then write it from the other.  It’s amazing how you can feel the difference.  Even better…this exercise can help with writer’s block! 

Character Voice

·       Make your characters distinct so you don’t always need to put in tags.   There’s a great way to test this—take the tags out of dialogue and see if you (or others) can tell who is talking.

·       Give each character something unique.  Weaving these little details in helps give dimension.

·       Readers fill in the gaps—you need to leave some white space.

Here are some other great suggestions from Jill:

·                       When you sit down and write, you don’t always have to write your book.  Just write anything.  It helps you find your voice, gives you space, and stops you from feeling pressured.  A bad day can affect your writing.  She said to strive for more than BIC…you want Butt In Quality Chair.

·       Read outside your genre.  This helps you see styles of writing that might be great for you.

·       Make dialogue count…especially when it’s up front.

·       Try to write three pages every morning before doing anything else.

·       Play around to find the right voice for your manuscript. You can try a different point of view, tone, day, attitude, etc. 

·       Think about where your book will sit in a bookstore, and keep that in mind when you revise.

Other notes:

Most picture books are not in 1st person because it makes them more universal.

Jill loves multiple point of view.

I loved listening to Jill critique first pages during her workshop and on the First Pages Panel.  She always has tons of fantastic advice to share.  Check out her amazing blog.  

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Comments

mindyalyse
Feb. 14th, 2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Can't find where to 'follow' your blog....
Hi Jennifer,

I haven't figured out how to have an e-mail follow, but I'm on Networked Blogs. I think this link will work: http://www.networkedblogs.com/user/1349807209

Do you have a link for me to follow your blog?

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mindyalyse
Mindy Alyse Weiss
I write humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books.

I'm an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, the FL SCBWI Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, and a proud member of From The Mixed Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors

I've been married for twenty years and have two beautiful daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix pup who was rescued from the Everglades.

I've been published in Highlights three times and placed in the 80th Writer's Digest Competition.

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