Okay, I'm officially addicted to writing workshops. After my weekend studying with Patti Lee Gauch at the Highlights Foundation, I promptly called my agent and told her I'm a changed writer.
If you have not yet been to Highlights and have the means to do so, GO NOW! What are you waiting for? The property is idyllic, with meals included, and I swear the air itself evokes inspiration.
Patti was the editorial director at Philomel Books for many years, so it was really refreshing to get an editor's perspective on writing. And, as the class title might suggest, VOICE matters a lot.
We spent the afternoons looking at excerpts from various middle grade and young adult novels, analyzing them for voice, then we broke off into pairs and worked on assignments that Patti gave us.
"Confidence," Patti would tell us as we wrote. "Don't flinch."
In school, we're always taught to dot our i's and cross our t's, to be correct in our grammar -- but building voice isn't about correctness. It's about attitude. Specifics. Wants and needs. And mood.
Plot might be what attracts a reader to a book, but voice is what keeps them reading.