Finding Your Voice - craft tool giveaway!

where, oh where, is the voice coming from?

Editors, agents and authors are always talking about that illusive VOICE - the voice of our characters, the author's voice, the novel's voice. But where does voice come from? And how can we find it? How can we tackle it? How can we finesse it and make it true?

While I am sorry to say I don't have the magic answers to these tough questions. What I do have however, is a handout of voice-finding exercises that includes a character questionnaire that I find has helped many authors focus in on and reveal voice of their characters and the voice of their stories.

Have you ever interviewed your characters? I mean really sat down with them, just the two (or more!) of you and started asking questions of all kinds? If not, then it's high time you get to it! And if your family and friends look askance and think you may well have finally turned that dangerous corner, pay them no mind! You're doing essential work and talking to your characters (which--aha!--is different from talking to yourself!) is the only way you're going to find your voice as you find out who these characters really are and what they really want.

I usually reserve this handout for authors whom I meet at conferences where I am guiding sessions on craft. But right now and for the next three days until March 1, 2014, I am giving away the handout to anyone who takes the time to follow the instructions on my drydenbks Facebook page. Check it out!


The Craft of Craft

I speak frequently at various children's book writers and illustrators conferences and have become something of a craft junkie.  While I thoroughly enjoy talking with authors and illustrators about the business of publishing and the market place, I'm relishing more and more the opportunities coming my way to talk with authors and illustrators about the craft of writing.

I aspire to be a writer--beyond the occasional (very occasional!) blog posts--but please don't go asking me what I want to write or what I'm going to write, because I just don't know yet. I have ideas. I have stories. I have sentences. I have characters. They're swirling. They're churning. They're waiting. And while they're waiting for me to get cracking, I'm finding it utterly inspiring to my writer self to be able to think about, teach, and practice the elements of the craft of writing with other writers at all stages of their writing journeys.

"Craft" stems from a Middle English word that means strength, skill. By definition craft is both skill and strength. How splendid then to have opportunities to strengthen a skill and better our craft. The more skilled, the more strong. The more strong, the more skilled. I am chasing every opportunity I can to work on craft. And as I help strengthen the craft of others, I feel my own craft being strengthened at the same time. The crafting of our craft never ends. And that's the beauty of it, as it opens us up to surprises about our stories and ourselves.

I'm delighted to be speaking at several craft-based conferences this year, including on the faculty of the Ventana Sierra Advanced Writers Workshop in Carson City, NV, in June (http://ventanasierraworkshops.com/):

and as the teacher for the Noepe Center of Literary Arts Children's Book Writing Workshop on Martha's Vineyard island in July (http://noepecenter.org/emma-dryden-childrens-book-writing-workshop/):


I can't wait to dig in with manuscripts, ideas, suggestions, writing exercises, writing tools, conversation, challenge, inspiration. Into the garden of craft we will go, turning over the earth, planting seeds, cultivating, and growing. What surprises await us?