Friday, November 19, 2010

Kathleen Alcalá Program Summary

Did you miss the last SCBWI Professional Series Meeting? Erik Pulkka has written up a summary of the evening's program.

Summary from the November 9 SCBWI WW Main Program: SPEAKING IN TONGUES: ZADIE SMITH AND OTHER WRITERS ON POINT OF VIEW Or Something Like Voice with Kathleen Alcalá.

Kathleen talked about how choosing the right point of view (POV) and voice are crucial to the success of any book. She referenced CHANGING MY MIND by Zadie Smith, and her own samples of the POV and voice choices she has made in her books, as well as how and why she came to those selections.

Finding the right voice in the work brings our writing alive. Each story will have a different voice and we as writers must find the POV and Voice that works best for our story. Kathleen used the term 'form' to refer to the structure of the POV and Voice in narrative. Some examples of Form and related books she shared with us:

"Recalling childhood with a child's voice" with readings from A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle, and TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD by Harper Lee.
"Prescient Now" reading from A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith
"Tale" reading from THE TELLING, and LEVINIA by Ursula LeGuin
"Prophetic Voice" reading from DUNE by Frank Herbert
"Moving Now" first person POV, reading from HARRY POTTER by JK Rowling
"Flexing" a flexible POV and multiple voices, reading from WITNESS by Karen Hesse

During the Q & A the question of Creative Non-Fiction came up. As for the definition of "creative non-fiction," it's applying techniques of literary fiction to non-fiction.
Wikipedia's definition: For a text to be considered creative nonfiction, it must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique. “Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction"
In conclusion, Kathleen said that when choosing the Form of our voice for our story we may have to write it from different POVs, and try different voices to get the right one for our story.

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