Writing in an Authentic Voice

During a session at a recent conference, I was asked how I write authentically from the point of view of a teenager? My novel, Empty Cup, is told in EC cover onlinefirst person from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old girl.

“I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday,” I responded, and then expanded by mentioning that I easily tap into the emotions of that time in my life. When writing Raven’s story, the main character from Empty Cup, I had to really think about how a teenager makes decisions, remember that her life experiences aren’t as vast as those of an adult, and although the story is not autobiographical, I had to relate to feelings of fear and unknowing, remember the exhilaration and terror of taking a risk, feelings of anger, betrayal, and broken trust had to come to the forefront in order to relate to Raven’s experiences to assure authenticity.

In the July 2015 issue of The Writer magazine, a reprinted an article from the July 1987 issue called Lowry’s guide to memory, Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, writes, “For me it is all there, and I can call it back. If that were not so, I could not write for children.”

At our recent meeting, I asked my fellow Anitas if they too could recall their childhood and teen years. A unanimous yes, but with exception. The conversation turned to writing from the point of view of the opposite sex. My current work in progress is from the view point of a sixteen year old boy. So how do I write accurately in that situation?

Great question!

face-73401_640I think emotions are emotions. Boys and girls both have similar emotions during similar situations, be it fear, humour, sadness. The differences are how they respond to those emotions. While I write my new story, I often think about how my seventeen-year-old son would respond. I’ve also based my character’s best friend off of a character from a TV show, he was a class clown type of personality, so I ask myself how he would respond. Sometimes I think of what the boys in my school did in response to different situations.

The other Anitas agreed and commented that having access to children of various ages is certainly helpful. And not just a little bit of contact, really getting in and around them, listening to how they talk, what they talk about… obviously do not stalk them! 🙂 I’m suggesting that if don’t have access to children in the age range that you’re writing about, then perhaps you have friends or family with children and you could arrange to spend some time with them.

Submersing yourself in your own memories of childhood is imperative for authenticity, but keeping in contact with kids of today will help to keep you current.

How do you keep your voice accurate for your characters?

Suzanne’s first novel, Empty Cup, is an edgy contemporary young adult story about a seventeen year old girl who lives through life’s ultimate betrayal. Suzanne lives in Winnipeg, MB.


geralt / Pixabay

Getting published is all about perseverance.

Hanging in there when it seems the entire publishing world is against you. Editing, cutting, rewriting your manuscript for the 812th time even though you wonder if it may be easier to quit and become an astronaut at the age of 46 22. Not tearing up manuscripts when your mailbox is overflowing with rejection letters. Okay, now that is too depressing of a visual to joke about.

You must write on, fellow writers, because quitters don’t win Man Booker Prizes and this year’s recipient, Marlon James, is no quitter.

James didn’t sit down and churn out a literary masterpiece one lazy Sunday afternoon. That accomplishment came after years of writing and struggle and after his first book was rejected nearly 80 times before landing a publisher. James even – gasp – capped his pen for a short while in despair, but he returned to writing with a firmer determination.

Libraries and book stores are full of great titles written by authors who fought hard to get published, authors whose work has changed our literary landscape.

All of the following books were rejected numerous times. How many have you read?rejected books kids ya

And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street – Dr. Seuss’ first book – 27 rejections

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling – 12 rejections

A Winkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle – 26 rejections which went on to win the Newberry Medal and become one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing; Blubber; Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret – Judy Blume – 2 solid years of rejections

What if these famous authors gave up after the first rejection? The fifth rejection? The tenth?

What would your childhood have looked like without Green Eggs and Ham? What if JK Rowling’s Hogwarts only existed in her own imagination? Thanks to Madeline L’Engle’s exploration of quantum physics we had our minds blown with the concept of a fifth dimension. And it is a tesseract, people. And you can travel through a tesseract. Ruminate on that for a while. Need I say more? And finally, how many girls found themselves and their own adolescent worries mirrored back to them while reading Judy Blume?

Perseverance brought these books into the hands of readers. Perseverance will help you grow your craft. Perseverance can lead to a successful publishing career. Of course there are no 100 % sure guarantees you will land a publishing deal, but you can be 100% sure you won’t get published if you give up.

Remember, only you can tell the story locked in your imagination.

So what are you waiting for?

Get writing!

For more writing inspiration check out this full article on Marlon James here.

a brief history


forever julia cover

Jodi Carmichael (www.jodicarmichael.com)  is an award winning writer of children’s and young adult fiction. Forever Julia, a novel for young adults is her latest release.

Jodi is the multi-award winning author of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. Jodi’s second novel is Forever Julia, which was just released this spring, landing on McNally Robinson’ Bestsellers’ list for three consecutive weeks.

Networking at CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons 2015

Writers, illustrators and performers from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario gathered at St. Michael’s Retreat overlooking the majestic Q’Appelle River Valley. Participants were able to

Connect with nature by being

Mesmerized by traffic rolling in and out of the valley.

Observing the changing colour palette as the sun moved across the sky.

Carefully juggling our foot steps as the landscape changed from flat, to raised and then lowered as you walk into the valley ( this takes lots of concentration coming from the flat prairies)

Stealthily walking the labyrinth with a tea light pressed into our palms.

Recording a landscape bursting with towering trees, rolling hills, flowers and wildlife in the mind’s eye and storing for future writing.

Networking with writers, illustrators and performers by

Warmly being asked about your art and hearing enthusiasm and support for your work.

Generously giving and receiving suggestions of who might be interested in your work.

Sharing challenges and getting encouragement to keep on trying

Making life-long friendships

Feeling humbled in the presence of so much talent and genius.

Getting tons of perspectives.

Travelling back home with seeds of inspiration and a flowering imagination.

Patricia Trottier, an experienced educator, loves working with and writing about the daily joys and challenges of children and adults.

Give Them Wings

Being a creative person, I get asked a lot, “How do you have such great ideas?”

There’s a few ways. I keep my eyes peeled. Not just at other people’s creativity, but at nature, patterns, colour combinations that please the eye, those that don’t—I observe people, places, things. And I listen too.

Yes it helps to have a natural bent towards creativity, but like anything, it can lay dormant, or be developed.adult-15814_640

One thing I have found true in both creative arts and creative writing, that ideas develop by doing. Again as with anything—practice-practice-practice.

Most projects I tackle, whether it’s sewing, or woodworking, or writing, start with a single idea, a vision, a spark. By the time I’m done, it has usually become quite different. Why?

In the doing, as I go along, I get more ideas because maybe a technical glitch has changed the vision, or I’ve come across something I hadn’t anticipated until I got right down to the details, and so I’ve adjusted the original plan to improve things, or as I fiddle with materials or words, I discover that if I use this instead of that then I can add the thingy to the whatsit and really make the project pop.drawing-board-670027_1280

Ideas occasionally fall from trees, but they need to be fed to grow. One must toss them around, chew them up, spit them out, and rearrange. The perfect sewing project rarely exists. Often one must take in a pattern here and there to make it fit.

An architect can have a great idea for a house, but perhaps the property is too narrow. He has to shuffle it around, change the layout to get it to work.

When moving into a new home, we have to fit all our old furnishings into a completely different space and organize it sensibly. That also requires a type of creativity and some rethinking before we get it right.

So with writing. I have found that the best points and connections and subtleties in my stories come from being immersed in the writing, completely unplanned. somewhere deep inside, the subconscious mind takes all your knowledge and observations and feeds them where they’re needed if we give it the chance. If I never take that original idea and start brainstorming and working it like a baker kneads dough, I would never progress.cargo-jet-108882_1280

The world progresses on ideas that were just tiny sparks. Take your favorite ideas and be bold enough to give them wings..

Christina’s motto is:
“Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)
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