(Catalogue Article Submission to Red Tuque Books)
WRITING with VOICE
by Mary Laudien
During my career as an educator/principal, I was innovative in structuring and implementing Writers’ Workshop in West Vancouver schools. The success that the students experienced by taking risks and realizing their potential as writers was brought home years later, when one of my earlier Grade One classes held a Grade 12 graduation party with their parents, and invited my former teaching partner and I to attend. The families wanted to acknowledge that they recognized how their confident children/learners had been so successfully launched in their school careers and were all anticipating exciting post secondary plans for their future. Writers’ Workshop was a powerful tool to bring parent involvement into the classroom as the students were immersed with excellent models through published authors and illustrators, and even their teacher! That’s right! I first started writing stories for my students (and parents), just to model that I loved writing, as well, and was excited to be a risk-taker!
What became a self-knowledge piece for these young writers was VOICE. Through examining the styles of writers/illustrators, they recognized the patterns that authors use in structuring picture books (eg., cumulative, problem-solving, rhyme and rhythm, chronological, etc.). As well, after studying published picture books through Author Studies, a new story could be introduced and the students were able to identify who wrote the book, based on the VOICE of the writer. This became something that the students strove to develop in their own early writing attempts. When sharing their own published books on Author Podium days, they took pride when a peer acknowledged their success in writing with VOICE.
Now that I publish my own middle grade novels (The Frenchie Series), picture books (Who’s the Captain?), and blog posts, I feel gratified when a reader comments that my writing has a distinct VOICE. This is when I know that my personal style is coming through my work. Authors all have it. And you can find your VOICE, as well!
As just one final tip, if you want to hear your personal VOICE in your writing, you need to constantly do the Author Mumble. This means read your writing aloud, so that you can hear it. You’ll discover a lot about your style and voice through the dialogue flow that you’ve created and the personality traits of your characters.
You might care to know what words I’d use to describe my personal voice. They include: tender, cheeky, amusing with a bit of attitude, and personal.
As you check out my site: FUN HAPPENS-KIDLIT & BLOGS with ATTITUDE, I’d appreciate it if you left me a comment or two pertaining to VOICE. Don’t hesitate to go back into the archives (on side panel) as there are numerous examples of cheekiness- I promise!! Thanks for dropping in.