Finding Your Voice in Southampton

On the 28th June Southampton had it's first SCBWI event - tons of respect to all you event organisers out there! We welcomed Sarah Lean to The Art House Cafe in the city centre. The Art House is a not for profit volunteer run vegetarian cafe that holds interesting and diverse arty crafty cultural events and on the last Saturday in June, we were one of them.

Why 'Voice'? Isn't it what every agent and editor is looking for? It seemed a good starting topic. Back in February Sarah gave Words & Pictures some excellent 'voicey' tips and as she's only in Dorset I asked if she would do a workshop and happily she said yes!

Six SCBWI members meet regularly in the city for a drink and something to eat. It's always a good time and I always come away feeling supported and encouraged. We restrict this monthly meeting to members only but it was wonderful to welcome five non members to Sarah's workshop - here's hoping they may not be non members for long.

Helen Dineen is part of our SCBWI Southampton group, Here's what she had to say about the the workshop:

Helen @aitcheldee
Sarah led us in an in-depth discussion about what Voice really means and how to achieve an authentic voice for your story. We talked about what it really feels like to write in your own voice, as well as the skills you need to edit your work. We worked on getting in touch with our inner child using all our senses, and analysed opening lines to see how a unique voice is immediately established by the best authors. It was also fascinating to hear about the level of detail Sarah creates for each of her characters before writing her books. We all went away with renewed enthusiasm and our notebooks full of useful tips and strategies for improving our own stories.

One of the things that made Sarah's workshop so brilliant was that it connected with people at the beginning of their writing journey…

It was so helpful, very informative and as someone who is very much starting at the bottom it was great to be around so many like minded people. It was my first workshop so it was great to be made so welcome, everyone was really friendly. I wasn't really sure how much detail you could really teach as far as writing for kids is concerned but Saturday's workshop gave me so many new ideas and made me reevaluate my whole method of writing - all for the better. I'd recommend the workshop to anyone.

...and those much further on…

Sarah was wonderfully full of spark and inspiration I came away firing with thoughts and ideas. It was a great session, lots of energy and very inspiring!

Thank you again to Sarah, hoping to welcome you back one day!

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is all over the place, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta. You can contact her at


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