Nancy's Books

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Voice, Contest and Call for Submission

Voice is that illusive ingredient all editors are looking for in a manuscript. I usually approach voice in a story by considering how the writing “sounds” on the page. I experiment with different voices before I decide how I want the character to speak. After I write a few lines, I read it aloud, but not in the presence of company for fear of being committed.

Narrative voice is the way the narrator is telling the story. Many writers struggle to develop a this voice, which is like a fingerprint: it’s unique to each writer. No two people tell a story exactly alike. Narrative voice is not so much what is told but how.

Character voice is the way the character speaks. I played around with different voices when I began writing The Munched-Up Flower Garden. I wanted the main character, Liz, to be a feisty young girl with spunk and determination who was also loud and funny.

An effective method of creating a character voice is to think about the way a child would explain an event or situation. Listen to a child the age of your character explain a rainbow or a roller coaster ride. How would that child describe playing in the rain? Talk with kids and listen carefully to the way they tell a story or explain a situation. What words and comparisons do they make? "Magnificent colors" is the way an adult might explain a rainbow. A child might compare the colors to a box of crayons or spilled paint or the colors of grandma’s apron.

Let the character take over the telling of the story and develop the plot through the character’s senses. Listen to the way kids talk and reflect their language in the voices of the characters. You’ll “hear” the character’s voice bring the story to life.

Contest and Call for Submission:

Iowa Short Fiction Award & John Simmons Short Fiction Award
"Any writer who has not previously published a volume of prose fiction is eligible to enter the competition. Previously entered manuscripts that have been revised may be resubmitted. Writers are still eligible if they have published a volume of poetry or any work in a language other than English or if they have self-published a work in a small print run. Writers are still eligible if they are living abroad or are non-US citizens writing in English. Current University of Iowa students are not eligible." Winning manuscripts are published by the University of Iowa Press under the Press's standard contract.
Submissions: August 1-September 30, 2010 (postmarked)
Details at

Past Loves Day Story Contest "To foster awareness of Past Loves Day, September 17, Spruce Mountain Press sponsors an annual Story Contest. The Contest, and the Day, offer an opportunity to acknowledge a truth that lingers in your heart." True stories sought. Cash prizes of $100, $75, and $50 will be awarded. "Winning stories will be posted (anonymously, if requested by author)" on the website.
Deadline: August 17, 2010 (midnight)
Details at

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