Writing Exercise: Borrowing a Voice

As promised, here’s writing exercise inspired by Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. Prose devotes an entire chapter to each of several writing elements. This exercise is inspired by chapter six on Character, and by chapter five on Narration.

The idea is simple: describe your character as if you were a completely different sort of writer than you are—-say, Jane Austen or Lemony Snicket, or anyone with a distinctive style. How would Austen or Lemony Snicket write about the same person? I used an Austenish sort of voice, describing my character’s foibles with a stiff upper lip.

Of course what I wrote probably won’t end up being in my book. It’s just a way to explore my character more fully and fill out the facets of her personality.

Since I last blogged, an illustrator has agreed to do the artwork for my easy reader. I’ll announce who it is after the contract is signed. At the signing in New Hampshire, I ran into Jo Knowles’ mother, who happens to be a librarian in the area. Small world, children’s books.

Just yesterday I received in the mail a copy of my great-great grandmother’s diary from 1940. Whoa! My great uncle John is the family genealogist and keeper of all such tidbits. Haven’t had a chance to crack it yet, but I’m already wishing Great-Great-Grandma had a typewriter. I’m not used to reading handwriting anymore. Maybe there’s a story in there somewhere, though Uncle John says probably not.

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