Find Your Voice with Eve Alder, Senior Editor at Sterling Children’s Books. The event was held at the Huntington Library in Huntington, New York, on March 3, 2019. RM Rivera took the notes.
Sterling publishes board books to middle grade. Publishing primarily picture books, Sterling has ventured into YA. They also publish an in-house board book series, biographies and publish fiction and non-fiction picture books. Barnes & Noble has partnered up Sterling and does direct them how their books should be marketed.
Eve gave a power point presentation on the definition of voice, the elements that make up the voice, and used exerts of voice from award-winning children authors’ books. Afterward, Eve gave everyone writing exercises to express their voices using three age groups, a five-year-old child, a teenager, and an adult school bus driver on a school bus.
What is Voice?
According to Eve, the author’s voice gives a personal connection and welcomes the reader into the protagonist world. Voice is the heart and soul of your story. Voice can be magical, have wit, be loud or soft, but most importantly your character’s voice must pull your reader into their world. Eve said your reader must care about your characters and what happens to them, your voice helps them with that. Eve used different examples of voice, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Phoebe G. Green series by Veera Hiranandani and several other award-winner authors how they used voice in their books. Although market trends can weigh heavily on most authors, Eve encouraged authors to write what they care about.
Voice can be;
–the expression of content.
–the mood and attitude of the story.
–the personality of what you’re writing.
–what pulls the reader into your story.
–the emotional connection.
–the presence of your voice must be in the entire book.
If an author’s manuscripts don’t have a strong sense of voice from page one, an editor or agent might pass on the manuscript. Eve suggested a spot test for voice and to find inconsistencies in an author’s novel.
The Five Element of Voice: Is learning a language is like learning vocabulary words; you must learn it.
1. Diction: Is a choice of words use consistently in the character’s story.
2. Details: Are concise words, like landmarks in a map, for the reader to follow.
3. Imagery: The sensory information such as taste, smell, texture, color, and sounds.
4. Syntax: Is the technical aspect of grammatical structure, sentence structure, and punctuation.
5. Tone: Is a feeling or mood in a scene or the entire novel.
First Person Voice vs. Third Person Voice.
Authors debate if their book needs to should be written in the first or third person. Eve suggested to write several paragraphs in each voice and make a commitment to that voice connecting with you. Eve thinks it’s an excellent exercise to do that because you might surprise yourself that third person might sound better in your story than the first person, and vice versa Also Eve, doesn’t have a problem with adverbs or adjectives, but strongly suggests to be concise.