Warren of Writing Voice, Kaitlyn Sanchez — Plus a Prize!
Kaitlyn Sanchez is awesome and I’m so glad that she could be on my blog today! Kaitlyn wears many hats as a mother, math teacher, writer and most recently she has become a intern at Olswanger Literary! Soon she will be a fantastic agent (as she is already a fantastic intern) and be gathering all of the best stories to put in bookstores near you! I absolutely can not wait to see this happen.
Here is Kaitlyn’s website: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/
You can follow her updates there and see when Kaitlyn opens up to submissions! Look at the end of this post to see how you can enter to win a PRIZE from Kaitlyn. She’s offering a critique to one lucky winner!
Voice--How Do You Find That?
Voice. It’s one of the most important and most difficult things to understand in writing.
I think the only way to find your voice is to write. Most writers have tried many things before they find their niche, sometimes it’s different styles, sometimes it’s even different genres. I think many writers discover their voice when they find their niche. And for others it’s the opposite, their voice dictates their niche. Now, by niche, I don’t mean once you write funny, you have to always write funny, so to make this a bit more clear, let’s journey through my past.
When I started writing picture books, I began writing about math, in rhyme. When I realized I need to have more than one story to get my work out there, I tried to figure out this whole “character-driven” thing I kept reading about. So I thought of a character, my daughter, and wrote a story about her using imagination to make chores more fun. Next, I tried a story inspired by my students’ beautiful way of blending Spanish and English language when they talk and had to create a premise to fit. At this point I had no idea how to access the ideas side of my brain when it came to writing, so I only had these three stories.
Then, enter STORYSTORM! Reading all this advice of how to come up with ideas and and live in a way that keeps my mind open to story ideas, helped ideas come in left and right. The hard part was writing them down. Once I started writing more and getting feedback from my friends and from critiques I won (and competing in contests), I started realizing my voice is often enthusiastic with some humor added in–I love writing in the How To style with a comical narrator, I love rhyming, and I often have similar onomatopoeia and/or exclamations in my stories. Sometimes, I write stories that are more intense and serious, but I still tend to have at least one of these things–a part with humor, enthusiastic interjections, etc. Things that have always been a part of my life.
I believe my voice is my uninhibited self in a kid’s mind–often my mind as a kid. But to rediscover that child within me, I had to write…a lot! And read a lot: my critique partners’ stories, TONS of picture books from the library and local book stores, and I had to open my mind to ideas that would let that voice grow and speak to me.
So, when people ask you about your voice and you’re a new writer, you may still be searching for it. Your voice in writing isn’t one thing, it’s just what happens when you’re training, writing, idea-finding, reading, and writing some more. Are there people that just know their voice from the get go? Of course! You naturals rock so hard! We adore you! But, if you’re not sure of your voice, that’s okay too, just keep at it, keep writing, reading, and querying, you’ll find it in due time.
Now if you’re still wondering, what does voice really mean? I FINALLY got it when I read this post “Defining Voice” by Jessica Faust: http://bookendsliterary.com/
Please share what you think your voice is, or what you’d love your voice to be, or what you’re doing to find it.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, math teacher, picture book author, and intern at Olswanger Literary looking to sell her first manuscript.
She is also the co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest.
In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read. Especially when her husband and daughter cozy up so they can all read together.
Great post, Kaitlyn. Thanks for sharing how you found your voice.
Thank you, Dee! I’m so happy it helped! Good luck in the giveaway and remember just by participating you’re already doing an awesome job–winning in your writing life.
Thank you for your take on voice, Kaitlyn! I would love a critique from you because you have such a great handle on character voice within a larger narrative voice. Yikes! It’s a tough thing to figure out!
Thanks so much Laurie! And I would be honored to critique a piece for you! Good luck!
I love that you can describe your journey to find your voice!
Mine seems so muddy and I’m not sure I’m at the end of it.
CPs have told me that my voice is whimsical and lyrical. I don’t write in rhyme but I do agree that my voice is lyrical. When I read my stories out loud, I feel they have a sing-song quality to them.
Great insight as always, Kaitlyn! I honestly think I’m still finding my voice. I’d love my voice to be relatable but at the same time a representation of my Filipino culture. I don’t know how to reflect that yet, but like Kaitlyn said, write, write, write! Thank you for this!
I would love to hear your thoughts, Kaitlyn!
Thank you SO much! This is super helpful💗
Shelly that’s great to hear! I know voice can be so hard to describe, I’m glad my ramblings helped you a bit like Jessica’s article helped me! Good luck in this month and remember you’re a winner just for being here!
I’m in the thick of it… I have probably 12 pbs that are at least at the rough draft stage. 5 or so that are in varying stages of revision after critiques. I learn the MOST from someone taking MY manuscript and saying , “YES! This part works.” Or “This would work better if….” or “ This is too wordy…try taking this part out.” Or “This word is confusing…. this sentence is awkward…. “. “This character rocks.” Etc…. it’s so helpful! I’ve been pitching and querying to no avail so far… I love Kaitlyn’s enthusiasm, but I also believe she would be honest, and that’s what I’m looking for! I would love Kaitlyn’s thoughts on one of my manuscripts!
Well hi Tonite Fletcher, you are amazing, how do you know me so well already? Honesty is number number one rule, not just in my classroom (though it is a super big poster on my wall) but also in life, and Critiquing is one of my favorite things, saying just like you said, what works and what can really make the Ms shine. Good luck in the giveaway and remember just by participating you’re a winner because look at all the great info and work you’ll be doing! Be proud and have fun!
It has taken me a long time to find my voice but I finally have it. I agree that no matter what I write whether it is more humorous or serious there are things in my stories that are similar. Thanks for the great interview with Kaitlyn.
I have truly enjoyed following her on twitter and her blog.
That’s amazing Deb, it is such a hard thing to find, super congraaaaaats on finding it! And thanks for following my blog and ways reading and sharing, it means a lot to me
Kaitlyn’s so right about voice. Every author has a different one. The more you write and learn the stronger your voice gets
As for me I have a couple of pb ms written. I am nearing completion of a dummy with both text and illustrations. It’s lways helpful for a new pair of eyes to critique your work since you’re too close to see it objectively.
Aw you’re so sweet Denise. I agree, my CPs are AMAZING, they always find awesome ways to improve my Ms!
Thanks Kaitlyn! A really interesting read -think I’m still in the experimental phase of voice finding! I’d love a critique from you. I’m new to PB writing and have 4 that I’m pretty pleased with but know I could improve…just not sure what to tackle! Honest feedback from an experienced writer like yourself would be so valuable in helping me see what needs changing/improving.
Love love love the honesty, Mary, it’s so good to know if you’re there or not and many people aren’t that self aware, how wonderful to have that going for you. I’d be honored to read a story if yours, good luck!
StoryStorm, REFOREMO, NAPIBOWRIWEE, 12×12, Rate Your Story, SCBWI – and now Spring into Writing! Isn’t the world of writing for children the best?!
I couldn’t agree more, Robin! This community is so special ❤️
Thank you Kaitlyn for a really interesting post about voice – that elusive quality! The sentence ‘Your voice in writing isn’t one thing, it’s just what happens when you’re training, writing, idea-finding, reading, and writing some more’ really resonates with me – I think that’s so true. This is the year when I’ve really concentrated on generating lots more ideas and having a lot more manuscripts on the go in a variety of styles and genres – I hope I am beginning to find my voice! I’d love a critique, especially as I have just written a more experimental picture book which I would love feedback on.
Sounds like you’re rockin it, Claire! I’m so glad some of my ramblings struck a chord. I’d be delighted to critique one of your stories, good luck!
KELLY L SWEMBA
Why I need Kaitlyn’s help…that’s such a big question! I have a dream to spread the love of reading to children. Books are magical! I would love to be able to share my stories, have my books read to children and leave them feeling better after having heard them. I LOVE hearing the voice in the beginning, so strong that it pulls you in instantly. With each writing exercise, I’m finding my voice and characters that I’m connected too. I think it’s great to learn what and how you want to say things.
To do this, I’m studying, working, and writing. It’s become my passion, but I can’t do this without help. My critique groups and CPs are amazing and they’ve helped me improve my writing. Having a critique from Kaitlyn would be wonderful! I think what’s great is she’s been on the author and agent side.
Either way, thank you for the opportunity Kaitlyn!
Kelly you are for sure doing everything right it sounds like! I’d be honored to see your work and keep it up, I have that same dream of inspiring and entertaining kids! Let’s do it!
Thank you, Kaitlyn, for a really interesting post on voice – that elusive quality! The sentence ‘Your voice in writing isn’t one thing, it’s just what happens when you’re training, writing, idea-finding, reading, and writing some more‘ really resonates with me – I find that so true. This year I’ve started to concentrate much more on generating lots of new ideas (I did Storystorm for the first time) and writing more stories in a variety of styles and genres – I’m hoping my voice is beginning to emerge! I would love a critique, especially as I’ve recently written a more experimental picture book story which would really benefit from some feedback.
Sorry – this is basically a repeat of my comment above, which I thought had got lost as it didn’t appear at first – now I see that the earlier comment did in fact get posted, so this is a duplicate!
Thanks Kaitlyn for sharing your journey about finding your writing voice. Jessica’s post is also very helpful in fully wrapping my mind around voice. I agree writing and reading as much as possible help to see what style comes naturally to my writing. I too enjoyed #StoryStorm. It provides a bank of ideas to work from and endless ways to come up with new ideas. Then, you get to write whichever ones speak to you the most and build on them with more ideas. Best of luck with your writing and agenting. I look forward to reading your stories. Thanks again!
Thanks so much, Joel. Isn’t this such an amazing community with such generous people like Jessica Faust? We side are lucky!
Thanks so much, Kaitlyn! Such a great post about voice. I would love to get your thoughts on my own voice in one of my stories. Fingers crossed here!
Aw thanks Kailei, good luck!
Wonderful post, Kaitlyn. I would love to win this critique for help with my voice.
Thank you for reading, Debra! Good luck!
Kaitlyn is the best! She helps the kidlit community so much!
I’d love to win a critique from her! 🙂
Aw you’re making me blush. I’ll take the words from the wonderful Istha Mercurio. I had people help me get started (and who are still helping me) and I’m so happy I can help others as they’ve helped me😍
Great post, Kaitlyn.
I think voice is one of the hardest parts of writing when starting out. We can read books about plotting, watch webinars about characterization, take courses on rhyme, etc. But voice is something that can’t be taught. It is something that develops over time.
Well said Linda! I hope you’re starting to discover yours. I think mine is still building too, but it feels nice when you can start to see it develop and think, I might be on my way ha
well, I guess I AM on my way. My crit group sees a clear pattern developing. To be honest, it is less apparent to me. I just write what comes to my head.
Sarah Rebecca Hovorka
As a writer newly trying to gain a foothold in the professional world, I greatly appreciated the morale boost from Kaitlyn’s enthusiastic comments regarding my Spring Fling entry (and the honorable mention helped, too!). I have a story written a bit in the How To style (science) with an unreliable narrator and with a separate zany story happening in the illustrations. I would love a critique of this story plus perhaps some insight into what she may see regarding possible niche brands since this story doesn’t fit with my other stories (except the humor).
Kaitlyn has great ideas and is an excellent writer! And, who doesn’t need another set of eyes on their project.
I don’t have the name of the speaker to credit this to. She has spoken at SCBWI conferences. But this note helped me understand what voice is.
voice = word choice + rhythm
word choice = vocabulary
rhythm = sentence length + punctuation
Thanks for your insight Kaitlyn. And I know you’ve read A LOT of books and manuscripts.
Ashley, that is a great way to describe voice.
Thanks for sharing it.
Thank you for sharing your journey to finding your writing voice. I’d love a critique as maintaining voice while working on feedback from critique partners can be challenging.
I need Kaitlyn’s help with my PB about a royal who loves math. She could help me make it exponentially funnier!
Honest and kind manuscript critiques should balance suggestions for improvement and constructive criticism, both gently and specific. I am always thankful for critiques that share encouraging thoughts and comments for what is working and creative suggestions for what is not. As a *writer under construction*, I look forward to receiving no nonsense critiques for my fiction and nonfiction stories.
I am thankful for the opportunity to receive a manuscript critique from Kaitlyn.
I would love Kaitlyn’s help! She is such a great resource. I had signed up for a conference and was going to get my manuscripts critiqued to be ready for the June #PBPitch, but it has been postponed. It would be so helpful to get a critique!
I need Kaitlyn’s help because I received a critique recently from an agent that left me a bit devastated because she said the primary topic dealt with in my story isn’t marketable. I don’t want to give way the details here, but I will say that though the topic may be uncomfortable for some, it is real for far too many. I would LOVE and RESPECT Kaitlyn’s critique!
My voice is all about the music of the read-aloud, whether it’s rollicking rhyme or percussive onomatopoeia. However, I have some stories that don’t quite sing yet, and I think you’ve just helped me figure out why. I haven’t applied my voice. Thanks for this post!
Thanks for sharing thoughts on voice.
I’ve learned a lot through SCBWI and 12×12 and I would absolutely love an honest critique as another aspect of my adventure in improving my writing.
Hi Dani and Kaitlyn!
I love your perspective on voice. In addition to developing it through writing a lot, I also think that getting feedback shapes voice and can make it stronger. That’s what I value in any critique, especially if that were to be yours!
Happy writing and agenting!
Great post Kaitlyn. I’d love to win a critique from you. I’m just starting out on this journey of self discovery. I’ve fallen in love with picture books and I’m hoping to find my voice as a children’s book writer.
Great post, Kaitlyn! I don’t often even think of my voice in writing, but now I’m going to be more aware. I like to think my voice is part humor, but I’m still learning.
Very nice article my friend!
Great interview! I think voice is connected to the heart of the story. The reader should feel the high and low points of the character and connect to that character through voice. It’s something I’m always working on. Reading lots of books and, as you said, writing “lots” is helping me to find my voice!
Hi Dani and Kaitlyn,
The comment I made from my phone didn’t appear, so I am commenting on my laptop. Thank you for sharing how you found your voice. I would love to get a critique from Kaitlyn since I want to figure out how to improve my MS that got likes on #dvpit. So far everyone who has read it likes it but it’s still missing something? I am an author-illustrator so I am trying to figure out if it is the art or the ms that I need to improve.
Thanks for a great article, Kaitlyn! I’m still working on finding my voice through lots of writing.