Voice Week: Tips and a Prize!

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Announcing the Voice Week 2014 Prize!

The Hobbit book


And here it is. A lovely, miniaturized copy of The Hobbit. Fitting well in Hobbit hands, it’s the perfect size to take there and back again.





The Hobbit


Also small enough to sneak into a showing of The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies, so as to shout corrections at the screen.



illustration from The Hobbit



Featuring gold-tipped edges and black and white illustrations by Tolkien himself. Isn’t it precious?

It will be awarded to a randomly-chosen Voice Writer–so this isn’t a competition, but you do have to participate to win. Hint hint.



Speaking of Voice Week, it’s less than three weeks hence; I hope you’ve started writing. In case it helps, here’s the process I use for creating my own Voice Week pieces.

  1. Pick a prompt. I like to choose something that has a lot of emotional potential, but that isn’t too complicated. The first year, I picked “alcoholic mother” – a good opportunity to express character without having to flesh out a whole story. It’s more like a glimpse of some feelings than a story.
  2. Outline the week. I jot down ideas for which voices I want to try. For alcoholic mother, I tried versions that were educated (complete sentences, better vocabulary), uneducated (incomplete sentences, aint’s), teenagery (contractions, slang), fudging the truth (like educated, but with lies!), medieval (ye olde) and childlike (simplistic).
  3. Rough draft two or three pieces. I start with the ones I feel would be easy to write, voices I already have a good handle on. I tweak to make the differences as striking as possible, and may swap a few sentences.
  4. Look for themes. At this point I look to see if I have subconsciously included some kind of deeper message. If I have, I’ll shape the other pieces to flesh out that message more clearly.
  5. Read some stuff similar to the voices I’m trying to create. This helps me get an “ear” for what the writing should sound like. I tend to be a chameleon writer who conforms my own work to whatever I’m reading at the time. That may also be why I slip into a (very bad) English accent after watching too much Doctor Who.
  6. Write the remaining pieces. Finishing up, again based on outline and themes.
  7. Trim. Cutting down till they’re all close to 100 words, allowing wiggle room for wordier voices.
  8. Decide on the order I think they should appear. It might be chronological. Or the order might serve to tell a bigger story.
  9. Make my brother read them. Critique partners are so important—of course all your fellow Voice Writers will serve as critique partners during Voice Week itself, so this is a step that can be skipped.

Want more guidance? Here are some links!

How to write like someone you’re not

How to write in an other-worldly voice

Stay tuned for more.

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  1. Right, so I think I’m being a bit slow, but where are the prompts?

  2. ooo… makes me want to play, but… nargh!

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