Monday, July 25, 2016

Voice - finding your writer's voice.

 
Voice is that most elusive of writer talents and it's essential to have it if you want your writing to catch the reader's attention and bring your writing to life. It's what reviewers and agents and publishers look for.

What is voice?
Think of your favourite writers.  Think of their writing style.  Is it intimate, casual, flippant, formal, colloquial?  How do they come across to you the reader?  How do they relay dialogue, description, character?  All that is a writing style usually more or less unique to that writer. That's voice.

How can you tell what's YOUR voice as a writer?  That's harder.  We can always talk about other peoples strengths and weaknesses - it's much harder to point to our own.  In a writer's group years ago, I was told by someone who was further down the writing path than me - you've not enough dialogue, you need much more.  I worked hard to put masses of dialogue into my chapters. Then I went to do an MA and my tutor said 'Why have you got so much dialogue?  Your strength is in your descriptive passages.  Cut down on the dialogue!'     She was right and I went through my book slashing and burning - not for the first time.  And I realised I must listen to my own thoughts, feelings, opinions about my writing, my own instinct - not follow someone else's.

Here's some key questions to ask yourself to help discover and strengthen your voice.    If you're writing memoir they apply to you personally.  If you're writing fiction they apply to your main characters/protagonists. Your reader must care about you or your main character(s) - even if they don't like them.
1.   What is the dominant impression of you or your main character. What is their/your main role in life? Fireman, policewoman, catering manager, shop-keeper, writer, parent? What is it defined by?  Organised, sloppy, angry, happy, depressed, moaning, cheerful, good-natured etc?
2. What is your/your main character's physical appearance?  Large? stocky? slim? neat? messy? well-dressed?  Hippy?  Neutral?
3.  What is your/your main character's basic background? grew up where? family life? economic? education? politics? Music- pop, classical, techno, heavy metal, soul, rock?
4. Did you/ your main character have a life-altering event - as a child?  teenager? young adult? older adult? What effect did it have on who you/they are?
5.  Hopes and dreams - yours/your main character.  Will it be fulfilled?  Is it due to something missing/lacking in your/your character's life? 
6.  What does your/your character's actual voice sound like?  Loud, soft, confident, shy, accent, RP( ie BBC British)?

When I first started writing I thought I had to eliminate my voice, not write like I speak, be a neutral observer.  No, no, no. Let your own unique and wonderful voice be heard in your writing. That will catch the reader's attention.

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With thanks to VOICE by James Scott Bell.

 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Poetry and Music Palooza for the Finchley LitFest

This was a great evening of interesting performances - if you missed it I'll post the You tube link in a moment. First I want to give you the biographies  of the performers - all fantastic! All professionals with great track records of performing :


Hilaire grew up in Melbourne but moved to London half a lifetime ago. Triptych Poets: Issue One (Blemish Books, Australia, 2010) features a selection of her poems, and her novel Hearts on Ice was published by Serpent's Tail in 2000. She is poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea Herb Garden for this year’s Open Garden Squares weekend. Quirky, unique and unusual poetry style. http://hilaireinlondon.wordpress.com

Arup Chowdhury is a singer/ musician who plays classical-based Bengali folk songs, some combined with English folk tunes. He may be joined by a female Bengali singer. He was born and raised in Bangladesh, played Harmonium when young but also learned guitar, keyboards, and harmonica. He has two master’s degrees from London Universities.  Beautiful voice and who knew Bangladeshi folk songs could be so uplifting!

Steve Turner was born and raised in the Midlands but has lived in London all his adult life. His poetry collections include Nice And Nasty and The King Of Twist. He has written five books of poems for children, one of which is the bestselling The Day I Fell Down The Toilet. He is the author of biographies of Johnny Cash, Jack Kerouac, Van Morrison and Marvin Gaye among others. His next book, to be published later this year in America by HarperCollins, is Beatles ’66. His poetry is provocative and thought provoking yet always accessible.

Anna Meryt has had numerous single poems published in anthologies and magazines. She’s part of Highgate Poets (www.highgatepoets.com). In 2011 she won first prize in the Lupus International poetry competition for her poem ‘Bulawayo’ – about her birth place. Two poetry collections – Heartbroke (2013) and Dolly Mix (2014) and a memoir (set in South Africa in the 1970s) titled A Hippopotamus at The Table. Her blog is at www.ameryt.com

Greg Mayston sings and plays Folk, Blues and Americana on fine vintage and modern guitars of steel and wood, and is branching out into the five-string banjo.  He regularly performs with his trio in and around Reading and joins us for a solo performance. He’s a truly virtuoso guitar player and has performed at the Festival previously. Greg's playing and singing goes from strength to strength, I could listen to him for hours.

HERE'S THE LINK:  Filmed by the writer and co-producer of Gold Dust Literary Magazine - David Gardiner

________________________________________________________________ 
We were missing (she was going to come, but was ill at the last moment)
Shanta Acharya  Born and educated in India, went to Worcester College, Oxford (one of the first women) there (D.Phil).The author of ten books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Shanta founded Poetry in the House (1996) and hosted a series of monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, Highgate.  Shanta has served twice on the board of trustees of the Poetry Society in the UK. Shanta Acharya received an award at the House of Lords on 22/6/16 for a ‘lifetime of service to poetry’. Her blog is at www.shantaacharya.com

Poetry and Music Palooza for the Finchley LitFest

This was a great evening of interesting performances - if you missed it I'll post the You tube link in a moment. First I want to give you the biographies  of the performers - all fantastic! All professionals with great track records of performing :


Hilaire grew up in Melbourne but moved to London half a lifetime ago. Triptych Poets: Issue One (Blemish Books, Australia, 2010) features a selection of her poems, and her novel Hearts on Ice was published by Serpent's Tail in 2000. She is poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea Herb Garden for this year’s Open Garden Squares weekend. Quirky, unique and unusual poetry style. http://hilaireinlondon.wordpress.com

Arup Chowdhury is a singer/ musician who plays classical-based Bengali folk songs, some combined with English folk tunes. He may be joined by a female Bengali singer. He was born and raised in Bangladesh, played Harmonium when young but also learned guitar, keyboards, and harmonica. He has two master’s degrees from London Universities.  Beautiful voice and who knew Bangladeshi folk songs could be so uplifting!

Steve Turner was born and raised in the Midlands but has lived in London all his adult life. His poetry collections include Nice And Nasty and The King Of Twist. He has written five books of poems for children, one of which is the bestselling The Day I Fell Down The Toilet. He is the author of biographies of Johnny Cash, Jack Kerouac, Van Morrison and Marvin Gaye among others. His next book, to be published later this year in America by HarperCollins, is Beatles ’66. His poetry is provocative and thought provoking yet always accessible.

Anna Meryt has had numerous single poems published in anthologies and magazines. She’s part of Highgate Poets (www.highgatepoets.com). In 2011 she won first prize in the Lupus International poetry competition for her poem ‘Bulawayo’ – about her birth place. Two poetry collections – Heartbroke (2013) and Dolly Mix (2014) and a memoir (set in South Africa in the 1970s) titled A Hippopotamus at The Table. Her blog is at www.ameryt.com

Greg Mayston sings and plays Folk, Blues and Americana on fine vintage and modern guitars of steel and wood, and is branching out into the five-string banjo.  He regularly performs with his trio in and around Reading and joins us for a solo performance. He’s a truly virtuoso guitar player and has performed at the Festival previously. Greg's playing and singing goes from strength to strength, I could listen to him for hours.

HERE'S THE LINK:  Filmed by the writer and co-producer of Gold Dust Literary Magazine - David Gardiner

________________________________________________________________ 
We were missing (she was going to come, but was ill at the last moment)
Shanta Acharya  Born and educated in India, went to Worcester College, Oxford (one of the first women) there (D.Phil).The author of ten books, her publications range from poetry, literary criticism and fiction to finance. Shanta founded Poetry in the House (1996) and hosted a series of monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, Highgate.  Shanta has served twice on the board of trustees of the Poetry Society in the UK. Shanta Acharya received an award at the House of Lords on 22/6/16 for a ‘lifetime of service to poetry’. Her blog is at www.shantaacharya.com