Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers Steal

by C LaRene Hall

Continued from last week about style and voice

Clint Johnson encouraged us to try an exercise for development by imitating others. He told us to find a passage from a writer we either love or that interest us for some reason, then try to recreate the style as best as we can see it by writing either a short story or one complete scene.

Next he told us to experment in our writing. See what is possible for us to do with the written word, and pay attention to our successes and failures. Exercise for development write one paragraph that works using only simple sentences. The assignment he gave us next was to write another paragraph that is at least five lines long and is all one sentence. Then we were to write a paragraph that is written completely in sentence fragments, followed with a page of dialogue.

Clint encouraged us to adopt other peoples ideas, texts, etc. into our own writing by referring to them, either directly or through allusion. The texts to which we connect will change the experience and meaning of our story and contribute to our style. The exercise he gave us for this was to write a page that connects to one religious text, one fairy tale, and one current news story.

He encouraged us to read out loud, to tune ourself, both to the English language and to our particular use of the language. We should read a passage we like from our own writing in a way that feels natural, then read it faster, then slower, and then as is comfortable again. Then rate our pacing on a scale of one to five from lethargic to rushed.

I enjoyed the class a lot and wish I could say that I have tried all of these suggestions. But no, I haven't. I hope to someday in the future try all of the above suggestions. I just wish life wasn't so crazy.

1 comment:

David G. Woolley said...

An author who borrows the work of another is a plagiarist. But the author who borrows from the works of many is a researcher.