Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 22 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Kathi Appelt

Today's high five comes from celebrated author Kathi Appelt.

Kathi has written so many wonderful books; she is a voice for the ages. This is a little article I wrote about her take on voice back 2001.

Kathi Appelt—On Voice
By Molly Blaisdell

A little advice from Kathi:

Voice is first found by listening to the language. Write a list of a hundred favorite words. Explore what sounds are appealing and try defining what motivates this appeal. Define personal strengths, passions, and beliefs, and try identifying with a group or place when searching for voice.

Voice occurs when a character has something profound to say. Motivation and need are paramount in developing voice. Voice is only evident in a story if the characters are strong. A character whose problem is too small or solution is too easy will have a weak voice. Voice comes through when characters solve their own problems and reach personal goals. Characters must overcome or reconcile themselves to their own shortcomings. They need to reach down deep and in the end they must win, not to the whole world, but to themselves.

The only way to sustain voice is by revision. Get the story down, and then go back over it later. Read out loud, listen for pacing. Find active verbs. Introduce metaphor and simile. Cut things that really aren’t needed such as too much description. Finally, take time to stare out the window and mull over things. Gifts of voice come from the heart.

This year finally a few people have noticed Kathi Appelt. Her National Book Award Finalist novel The Underneath is an incredible book. The language creates a world full of wonderfications and marvelments. It's my number one pick for the Newbery and yay! Here is a quote about Kathi's process of creating this wonderful book. In some ways this story was like taffy. I kept stretching it and pulling it and stretching it and pulling it some more, and at times pushing it further and further out. Kathi Appelt

See if your work will stretch today, Golden Coffee Cuppers. See if you can pull it. If that doesn't work, try pushing it.

One more thing... on the 30th of this month there is going to be a real life party, Golden Coffee Cuppers. Holly Cupala has a plan:

"Another idea that has captured my imagination and fueled the fire of my goal-reaching is an upcoming party to celebrate the Golden Coffee Cup, NANOWRIMO, and any other writing or illustration goals made and/or accomplished during the month of November, kind of like kidlit drink night except more like NANO-Cup-O-Cake-A-Drink-Lit Night on November 30th.

So if you want to come together with some wonderful creative folks, mark the date. More info is coming soon. Post if you want to come. Thanks.

Post you successes too, folks, so I can SNAP!

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