1. At the last meeting of the month, the meeting will be broken down into 4 to 5 time blocks, the first will be any announcements and notifications, the second dedicated to our mini-lesson, then the remaining 3 blocks of time will be dedicated to 2 or 3 of our members who have been randomly selected to do a special “presentation” of their work.
2. The people doing presentations must be different from the person assigned to do the mini-lesson
3. The writer’s presentation can be on something they are writing on, a new idea or anything else they may want to share with the group.
4. What makes this special is that those 2 or 3 writers who have been selected or who have volunteered or have been selected will have the floor for a full 30 minutes – up to 25 minutes dedicated to reading, with the remaining minutes dedicated to a thorough analysis and critique of the work presented by the group.
5. Those people selected to do their presentations will provide the members of the group with copies of the work to be evaluated.
6. The handouts given to the members on that day are for evaluation, analysis and critique only, and are to be returned with written notes and critiques at the end of each presentation.
7. At the end of the “presentations” meeting, a new batch of writers are to be selected and they will have one month to prepare their work for evaluation
I feel that if a person is allowed to read more of their work with a bigger block of time then they will be able to convey their ideas. I also believe that if they are given notes of their work, honest, thorough analysis of their work by their peers, then that writer will be even more encouraged to bring in material the next time they come. Many times we leave the meetings with a bit of advice, a bit of solid critique, but not all of it, or we forget some of the thoughts our peers put forth for our consideration when some of it may very well have been the difference in our work moving into the next stage. By providing the group with handouts, the members can read along with the presenter, make as many notes as they want, and then turn them back in to the presenter so that they can read the suggestions at home and decide whether to use the information or not. We sort of did a test run with one of our members last Saturday, and she was absolutely thrilled with the amount of feedback that she received.
If we look back at our charter, then we must remember that we are here to help each other out, we are here to give an honest critique of the work in order to see our members flourish. Here is a step in that direction. This is a new thing, so we are going to give it a real test run, if it works then…
The Writer’s Voice
by Joyce H. Ackley
Voice is the process of putting words together in a way that makes the writer unique. It is the personality of the writer expressed through the written word.
It includes the individual style of the writer, such as vocabulary, dialogue, length of chapters, and descriptions. Sentence structure is one of the components of voice. Maybe you like to write short, spare sentences in the style of Hemingway, or perhaps you favor long, descriptive sentences like those Anne Rivers Siddons writes so beautifully.
Voice is influenced by personal observation of how you view the world. Your beliefs and your passion are reflected in your writing voice.
Some say every writer already has a voice, that it happens all by itself. However, voice can be developed, and it can be sharpened so it is authentic and distinctive.
You may have found your own voice, or you may still be working on it. In either case, here are some ways to facilitate and hone your voice:
Read the genre you love, and read outside of your favorite genres. The more you read, the more you will develop a sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll discover how stories are put together, how characters are developed, and how stories are paced and plotted. You’ll see how badly written novels fall apart, and you will be able to pinpoint the reasons.
Study the style of your favorite authors. Do not copy their characters or their worlds, or their stories, but spend time reading their work and figuring out what makes it unique.
Practice free writing in journals. Pay no attention to spelling, punctuation, or editing. Just write your story in your own special way, and your voice will emerge.
Free writing is also called stream of consciousness writing. Write what is natural. Don’t force the words; let them flow naturally from your heart and your head.
Write outside your genre. Experiment a little. You may surprise yourself with what you can do if you step outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Your voice can vary in different genres. A romance novel wouldn’t be written in the same way a crime novel or a science fiction story would be. A genre that is new to you might be just the perfect one that makes your soul sing as you pen the words.
Author Holly Lisle says, “Nothing you write is wasted.” Whether you use it or not, you will have learned from the experience. You’ll take something away from every piece of writing. And you will be developing your own voice. The more you write, the more your individual style comes to light and becomes consistent.
When you write, give yourself the freedom to say things in your own special way. Your voice should sound natural, using language that comes naturally. If you use words that you have to look up in the dictionary, chances are your reader will have to look those words up, too.
Voice should be authentic, but you can cultivate a style from authors you admire.
Write from passion.
You will never discover your true voice if you don’t care about the things you’re writing about. According to Holly Lisle, your voice does not exist when you’re trying to write a book in a genre you hate because you think it will be an easy way to make a quick buck.
Love your writing. Love your failures, even, for you learn from them. Love yourself for having courage to keep going in spite of failure. Love your successes, and every little triumph, every promise that points toward an eventual success.
Writer Cris Freese maintains, “To set your voice free, set your words free. Set your characters free. Most important, set your heart free.”
Embrace your writing voice, for you are one-of-a-kind.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Do you think you have developed your own writing voice, or are you still in the process of developing an authentic voice?
- Do you write in more than one genre? If so, does one style come easier? Does it feel more natural for you?
- Is your writing style and voice similar to that of an author you admire? If not, can you name an author you’d love to emulate?
Some Timely Writing Quotes
“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.” Ray Bradbury
“A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident.” W. Somerset Maugham
“The best way to develop your writer’s voice is to read a lot. And write a lot. There’s really no other way to do it.” Stephen King
Come join us at our new time. Same place.
Saturday, March 12 @ 2:00pmThe Pink Piano 1015 S Florida Ave
Lakeland, FL 33803
By Lucy Ginorio
My problem is epistemological.
Do I criticize or do I critique?
My 1956 Webster’s paints criticism
With a mean brush in dark colors
Calling it judgment and censure.
Dirty words in a free society, let alone a literary circle.
But wait, the lexicographer creates a second avenue of meaning,
‘Criticism is the art of judging with knowledge and propriety
The beauties and faults of works of art or literature…’
Criticizing my fellow creators, composers is correct, if,
If my words spring appropriately,
With my eyes intent on art.
So why not criticize; no, no, you say, critique.
But Mr. W speaks once again.
Stating ‘critique is the art of criticism.’
Without criticism there is no critique.
Those French, those French they say what we say
But they say it with class.
The Writing Process
By Alison Nissen @ 3 Dog Tales Productions (3dogtales.com)
The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance. –Richard Price
But what does this mean? It means writing is a process. You have an idea. You paint the picture. You bring it to life. This may be a character or a scenario or an era but it doesn’t come to life without the process.
And process is boring. So, let’s break it down.
Step 1: Brainstorming.
Brainstorming is like a tornado. Thoughts are jumbled, swirling, crashing into ideas. Then, when the dust settles, there is a nugget. You stoop down to examine it. If it were a rock, it might have a bit of glimmer flickering off its rough edges. Carefully, you pick up the nugget, weight it in your hands and hold it up to the light. It’s dull and lifeless but it, nonetheless sings to you. You quickly grab your pen and paper and write down the lyrics. They’re not any good but you can hear the melody because that idea is humming away.
That nugget, that tune, that song starts to solidify in your head, providing background music to your thoughts. You might need to sit a while and write, letting the ideas roll off your fingertips and onto the computer screen. Maybe your spelling is atrocious or modifiers are dangling. It doesn’t matter because the ideas are flowing and the nugget is beginning to shine.
Step 2: Prewriting
Prewriting is an act of organization and learning. If the nugget is about the horrors of war, to borrow Richard Price’s idea, then you need to determine the who, what, when, where, and why of the war. Sometimes an outline is the best way to keep yourself organized. Or you might like using a spreadsheet. Some people like lots of details and others prefer bullet points. There is no right or wrong way to prewrite, it’s just a way to keep your hair on the top of your head and out of your fists.
To start, you might write WAR in the center of the page. Add more details surrounding WAR. Continue to go deeper, providing additional ideas around each of these facets. The closer you get to the edge of the paper, the more specific the detail, until you get to the kid’s burnt sock lying in the middle of the road.
Then you mine the ideas and determine what else you need to know to write a book about your nugget. You become the nugget expert.
Step 2 ½: Once you are an expert, you can create a writing plan. Plans can be changed but a goal without a plan is just a wish. So grab your calendar and pick some dates. Maybe you’d like to write for 30 minutes daily. What about a weekly goal? Say, 5,000 words? Put it on paper. (This is important to hold yourself accountable!)
Or you might decide to write by the seat of your pants (you pantser). Instead of an idea map, you might prefer to jump right in. Sentence after sentence, your story comes to life. Instead of prewriting, you’re drafting.
But wait! You’ve skipped a step and a half! Do you have to go back without passing go? No! Proceed to Step 3.
Step 3 (or possibly Step 2): Drafting
Drafting is just like it sounds: Writing a draft of your manuscript or poem or short story or newsletter or whatever it is you are producing with words. If you’re using a map, you might chose to write in any order necessary to put all the ideas on paper (chapter 3 then 5 then 2 then 4). If you are pantsing it, you may have already begun. Regardless of your method, just promise me one thing: Do not be mad at yourself when it’s not perfect the first time. I’ve only ever heard of one author who doesn’t need to write multiple drafts and I think she was lying or maybe instead of writing multiple drafts she had multiple revisions—which brings us to step 3 ½. Unless you haven’t completed Step 2 ½. Then make some sort of plan.
Step 3 ½: Determine what the crescendo will be for your piece. Will you need an agent? Do you know which magazines it might fit into? This is a good time to research the business portion of the process.
Step 4: Revisions
Revisions are drafts, don’t kid yourself that they aren’t. But they are more about finesse than the basics. This is when you expand on the details, create texture, add smells and sounds and flavors. In the Horrors of War, you mentioned the kid, alone and barefoot. Now you paint the socks, abandoned and smoldering as they lay on the pot-hole riddled asphalt. The war is your melody, the boy is the lone saxophone, playing low and slow. The socks give your song depth. But maybe your piece needs a flute too. So, move to step 5 right after you’ve reviewed Plan 2 ½ and focused on Step 3 ½.
Step 5: is a repeat of Step 4. Now, move to step 6 after you’ve checked Step 2 ½ and don’t forget about Step 3 ½.
Step 6: which is a repeat of Steps 5, 2 ½, and 3 ½. Now onto step 7.
Step 7: Okay, at some point, you have to move on to editing. Which is still revising; otherwise known as drafting. Okay. Stop. Expand Step 2 ½ to include editing. Check for punctuation. Spelling. Grammar. Put it on your calendar. Check it again. Why? Because your brain is so familiar with the process that is skips the small stuff. You have to listen for the drum roll and discern it from the bass guitar.
Step 8: Is to just stop. At some point. You will want to start the whole thing over again. Beginning with brainstorming because you fell asleep and The Horrors of War played a new scene in your head and. Oh Boy. Just Stop.