On-line Voice Workshop (syllabus)

Barbara Samuel


A six week writing intensive designed to help each writer recognize the unique elements that form her own voice, and to recognize voice as a whole.    Each week, I’ll post a set of exercises, and you will have several days to complete them.  Then you will post your work to the group, and we will then discuss what elements of voice have been showcased that week.   There is plenty of time to discuss questions that come up, and to address each writer’s concerns about her own voice.

The exercises are mostly timed writings, and are designed to build, week by week, to help you see what elements make your voice unique, and how you might be able to best match it to the marketplace.  Are you a funny ethnic writer with a thread of poignance?  A serious historical novelist with deep roots in a particular time?  What influenced you to come a writer, who taught you to talk, what have you read and loved?   All these elements form the developing writer.

The week usually runs Thurday to Wednesday.  I try to post new exercises by Thursday, and you then have until the following Sunday or Monday to post them (some take longer than others) and then we’ll discuss the posts until Thursday (or Friday, depending on how the discussion is going), when I post new exercises.


1. Rules of the Road

2. Introductions

3. WHAT IS VOICE, EXACTLY? A definition

Speaking voice vs writing voice

4. Exercises for the week

History and place as formative elements

5. Discussion


1. Becoming Aware: ourselves and our places

–what does the world sound like?

–what do YOU sound like?

2. Voice vs. style, discussion

3. Exercises for the week; one jaunt into the world of an hour or so, the other two timed writings

4. Posting and discussion



–other writers, other stories

–favorite genres (why do we love the books we love?)

–the history of a life: yours

2. Individual truth and emotional honesty: why writing is scary sometimes, even if you’re making it up and the heroine is a princess for heaven’s sake

3. Exercises

4. Discussion


Check in: how does it feel? Discussion.

1. More on influences and exercises on how to see them, see yourself, see others, pick out a voice

2. Illustrating the differences.

3. Exercises

4. Discussion


1. Two part exercise designed to illustrate each individual voice.  Reading, side by side posts.

2.  Discussion


Pulling it all together.  A worksheet and discussion to help each writer answer lingering questions, put all her ideas in one place, and have a chance to display her own work.

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