A report by Carole Hastings from the Hampshire Writers’ Society May 8th meeting
Sophie King took us through the main session of how to create a voice that will have you stand out on the publisher’s pile. Sophie is a successful author who started her writing career under her name of Jane Bidder as a journalist and author of non fiction books for Orion. She has now published five contemporary novels and non fiction books under the name of Sophie King, a name deemed very marketable by her publishers. As Janey Fraser she has a new book called, The Playgroup.
She shared a number of tips and exercises to help us develop our voice or voices:
- Your first and last sentence are key – these are the two that will make the agent/editor read more …
- Use photographs to inspire you – try out different scenarios – use them as stepping stones – do it daily
- Set yourself challenges and meet new people – more book material to help you widen your experience
- Try writing with a buddy to create a change in tone
- Use a change of circumstances to help you find a new voice
- Write in a different place, perhaps at a different time, perhaps with a change of hairstyle
- Read what you normally don’t read to see if another genre might be for you
- Write for five minutes each day without thinking – try subjects you’ve never thought of before
- Think about your characters and their relationships before you start on your plot
- Use your book framework as a guide and let the characters evolve
- Revise your work before you move onto your next chapter
- Make sure there’s an action point or element of conflict in each chapter and aim to keep them of similar lengths
- Try out different narratives/viewpoints but avoid first person for anything other than a short story as it may become restrictive in a novel
- Have more than one viewpoint in a novel but don’t muddle them
- Make sure you have a balance of narrative and dialogue
- Avoid writing two different books in two different voices at the same time – you’ll lose your voice …
- Try your hand at competitions – Writing Magazine is a good read for all writers
Check out Sophie’s website.
Stephen Boyce, freelance heritage and arts consultant and published poet talked to us about the developments in Southampton and Winchester on the cultural scene. He’s Chair of Culture Southampton and gave us the heads up the the new arts complex, including studios and a theatre, being developed on Guildhall Square in the heart of Southampton. There will be a public performance on June 16 for those who want a taste of what’s to come. He then read a tender poem about his father photographing his young bride en route for their honeymoon.
It was encouraging to hear from Hermione Wilds [Laake] that going to an English Literature session with Gary Farnell at the Winchester Writers’ Conference was the catalyst in moving her from aspiring writer to published author. Her book Bertha’s Journal is soon to be available on Amazon and from the publishers Strategic who are the joint publishing venture involved. The video link for Bertha’s Journal.