It was a lot of fun, and I met up with my critique group as well as members of my YA book club.
It's always nice to leave your writing cave to spend time with others who have similar passions. Writing can be a solitary thing, but it doesn't have to be!
ANYWAY, two of my seminars focused on voice and capturing the reader's attention, especially in the beginning pages. So I'd thought I'd mash them up for purposes of this post.
After all, your voice has to shine through AND you must compel the reader to turn the page, all at the same time, right?
But voice is one of those enigmas that is hard to define. Agreed?
Author Marlene Kennedy (THE DOG DAYS OF CHARLOTTE HAYES) defined it as "an intricate dance b/w the author, characters and readers." She said it's "personality that comes through the writing. It creates the mood of the piece through inflection, rhythm, pattern of the words, and tone."
Editor Marth Mihalick from Greenwillow Books (pictured below, right, with my YA book club buddy Leah Clifford, who's book, A TOUCH MORTAL, is debuting February 2011 through Greenwillow!) said :
*Begin your book with authority. Assume your readers can keep up.
*Create expectation and then make sure you're living up to it.
*Make sure you have begun your book in the right place.
*Give readers enough information to ground them, but not too much.
After all, Stephen King said, "Good books don't give up all of their secrets at once."
May sound simple, but it's a continuous struggle for many writers, myself included!
Both Martha and Marlene (who happens to be Martha's client as well) gave us great examples of openings and passages that worked.
Here is one of my favorites from the book, A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT (by Linda Urban):
When you play the piano, you don't go to Perform-a-Ramas. You give recitals.
A recital is a dignified affair.
There are candelabras at the recital.
People sit in velvet chairs and sip champagne and look over the program. There are always programs at a recital.
At a recital, you play Mozart and Beethoven and Strauss and Bach.
You do not play Hits of the Seventies.
GREAT, right? The voice is compelling AND it makes me want to turn the page!
Now--back to the writing cave to get it right! ;--)