Voice in Fiction
An authoritative voice. An exciting new voice. You recognize it when you read or hear it, because you find yourself believing whatever it says, even if it’s fabulist. You want it to keep on talking to you.
But, according to some writing coaches, having a “voice” is like having perfect pitch or curly hair. You have it or you don’t. Or it’s something you chance upon after extensive searching, like your birth certificate in the old secretary. You’d been looking for your voice. Now you’ve found your voice. Mazel tov!
Either way, whatever the simile, the point is that voice can’t be taught. Is it true?
In this workshop we will address the issue practically, first by examining voice in the work of very different writers of fiction: diction, syntax, figures of speech or the absence of. And that ineffable quality called tone?
Then each of us (or some, depending on the number of participants) will have a chance to present a piece of our own work, to be discussed in terms of voice. Last is a writing exercise designed to help writers augment or enhance their individual way of putting words together.
Sharon Solwitz has published over sixty short stories in such magazines as Tri-Quarterly, Ploughshares, and Mademoiselle. Her awards include the Pushcart, the Nelson Algren, and the Katherine Ann Porter prize along with grants and fellowships from the Illinois and Kansas Arts Councils.
She has published a novel and a story collection with Sarabande Books. Her collection Blood and Milk received the Carl Sandburg award and the Midland Authors prize, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.
Author Bob Shacochis says, “Whatever Sharon Solwitz writes, I hunger to read, marveling at the bold honesty of her voice, wordplay like swordplay, and the startling implosive force of her narratives.
She teaches fiction writing at Purdue University and lives in Chicago with her husband, poet Barry Silesky. Her most recent story will appear in Best American Short Stories 2012.