Friday, May 30, 2014


It is one of those elusive things. Writers try to develop it. Publishers look for one that is unique. It is an essential element of effective writing. So what the heck is voice?

Simply put, voice is the way you write, your individual writing style. As there are a zillion of us tapping away at keyboards, there are just as many variations on voice. As a trumpet, a clarinet, and a violin all are capable of playing a melody, the sound of each produces will be different. Voice conveys the author’s attitude and personality. It’s what makes writers unique; it’s what makes your writing pop. It’s what draws a reader into a story.

Ann Cannon posted recently on her blog about voice. She says that “we all recognize it when we see it—a narrative style that makes you sit up and take notice, one that feels fresh and wholly original—a style that is as unique and individual as an author herself.  Voice elevates an ordinary story and makes it memorable, even extraordinary—and when a voice feels authentic, we as readers feel like something so natural must also be easy to pull off.” Then she confesses it is not easy.

I will be the assistant for Ann at the Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers (WIFYR) conference again this June and my guess is she is planning something on voice. She has assigned us to read the works of two masters of voice, Carol Lynch Williams and Ann Dee Ellis, both Utah writers.

I had read Carol’s The Chosen One a few years back. Rereading it does not diminish the power of her voice. Carol writes with such authority. The main character Kyra’s story is so compelling, the reader is completely pulled in. It is hard to put down and the voice stays with you after you close the book.

Ann Dee Ellis displays her gift of voice in both her first two books, This Is What I Did and Everything is Fine. I’ve just begun hearer latest, The End Or Something Like That, and it promises to serve a big slice of voice. Ann Cannon can’t think of another YA writer “who has the gift of voice in the way she does…  Ann Dee’s voice draws you into fictional words that simultaneously ring both eccentric and true. Her use of language is startling.”

Ann Dee will be doing the WIFYR Friday mini-worship and her topic just so happens to be, drum roll, please,  voice. Carol and Ann are running morning workshops. Carol’s class is full, but if you want to learn a thing or two about voice, there are still spots available with both Ann and Ann Dee.

(This article also posted at

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