Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Voice, Contests

Sometimes we have those A-ha! moments when we see, hear, or read something that grabs us in a new way. That happened to me when I read the following quote by Gordon Lish: It’s not about what happens to people on the page; it’s about what happens to a reader in his heart and mind.

Hummmm. That bit of information is a nugget of literary ore. Our stories should begin with action; the characters should change by the end of the story; a satisfying conclusion usually works best, but a story can have all these components and still not strike gold with the reader. These components are a pathway for creating the story, but just as important is how we tell the story, better known as voice.

Voice is dicey to define and comes with a variety of definitions. It’s the way a character expresses him/herself in a unique way that reveals the character from inside out. Voice can be expressed in dialog, the words spoken by the character. Or through narrative, as the character tells the story in words that reflect who the character is. Voice is what the character chooses to say and how the character says it. Strong voice has attitude and rhythm. The story must resonate with the reader to such a degree that s/he will keep turning the pages.

Next week, I’ll discuss how to strengthen voice in writing.

Contest for Student Writers

The Sylvia K. Burack Writing Award is a writing contest for high school students in grades 11 and 12 in the U.S. and Canada. The award is made in memory of Sylvia K. Burack, longtime editor and publisher of The Writer magazine. Burack was known for her dedication to helping writers and editors. Submit a previously unpublished 600- to 800-word personal essay in English on the following topic: "Select a work of fiction, poem or play that has influenced you. Discuss the work and explain how it affected you." No song lyrics.

Eligibility: You must be a student in grade 11 or 12 attending a U.S. or Canadian high school at the time you submit the essay. The winner will be asked to provide proof of enrollment in grade 11 or 12 in a U.S. or Canadian high school.

• $500
• Publication in The Writer magazine and on
• A one-year subscription to The Writer
Deadline: March 31, 2011

Contest for Adult Writers

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest
"Now in its tenth year. We seek today's best humor poems. Total cash prizes of
$3,600 will be awarded,with a top prize of $1,500." NB:"Poets of all nations may
enter. Your poem must be in English (inspired gibberish also accepted). Please
submit only one poem during the submission period. Your poem may be of any
length. Both published and unpublished work are welcome."
Deadline: April 1, 2011

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