Elizabeth Lyon on Style and Voice

A few months back Elizabeth Lyon gave a talk about Style and Voice from her book Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford To Ignore.

She says that she put style first in her book because style (words used to create a desired effect to fit genre and character),voice (“…the author’s natural use of language to create” authentic characters and story) and a good story, trump craft.

One technique she suggests is “riff writing.” Select a passage from your writing that seems sparse or overly tight and pick a point to “jump off” and free associate without limits to what goes into the text.

She recommends that after riffing on paper, give it a chance to cool off and then see if any or all of it fits into your story.

You might recall that I said, “Writing is like jazz. Each word, like each note, must be unexpected and yet feel inevitable, always following the theme. If it doesn’t echo the theme, then no matter how pure and clear, it sounds wrong.”

Ms Lyon spoke at a Vancouver Writers’ Mixer at Cover to Cover Bookstore in Vancouver, WA. Carolyn Rose and Mike Nettleton coordinate the mixers and are terrific folks. I’ve taken three of the courses they give at Clark College in Vancouver, WA. You might check out their Top Ten Mistakes Newbie Novelists Make.

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