What’s so important about voice?

Agents and editors ask for voice by name.

~ By Chris Bailey and Melina Kantor

When asked what they hoped to find in a successful entry, a third of the final round judges for the 2010 Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest said voice topped their wish list. Young Adult final round judge Emilia Rhodes from Simon & Schuster says “a voice that sparkles” sets a winning entry apart from the rest. Editor Megan Records, Kensington Publishing Corp., one of the final round judges in the paranormal category, says she’s first attracted to a story by the voice. A final round judge in the Single Title category, Harper Collins Editor Amanda Bergeron says, “I will be looking for a strong voice.”  With that kind of demand, it makes sense to let your voice color your writing.

In honor of the Stiletto contest and yesterday’s discussion on voice, we thought we’d throw a little writing party and give you all a chance to show off your colorful voices with a small writing exercise:

Write a paragraph or short scene in which your protagonist is in a shoe store looking for the perfect pair of stilettos to wear to her ex-fiance’s wedding. It’s been a very long day, she’s green with envy, her feet hurt and every pair of shoes she finds are either too expensive or don’t fit.

Don’t think about voice while you’re writing. Hopefully, by writing something quick with no strings attached (like worries about pacing, goals, character development, etc.) your voice will automatically shine through.

Every person who does this exercise will have the story, but no two stories will sound alike.

That’s the beauty of voice.

What did you discover about your voice? Are your sentences long or short? Did you write in first person or third person? Are there any words you love to use? Which lines do you think your readers (including critique partners, friends and family) would feel “are so you?”

If you try this, leave a comment and let us know how it went! If you’re feeling particularly brave, feel free to post some or all of your exercise.

There’s still time to give your manuscript a final polish! Enter the Stiletto contest electronically by midnight Saturday, Oct. 2.

See http://chicklitwriters.com/home/get-your-stiletto-in-the-door for details.