The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, May 18, 2015

Slipping into a Writer's Style

       More than a decade ago, I joined the Gateway Writing Project. It's the St. Louis site--part of the National Writing Project--and teaches teachers to become confident writers and teaches them how to teach writing. It was a life-changing summer.

      One of the things we did (and it still amazes me) was an activity that required us to slip into the skin of a writer and write like them. (This brilliance was delivered by Dr. Jane Zeni.) Some teachers were given a Kurt Vonnegut passage. Some were given a Jane Austen passage. I don't remember the other authors that were included. I only know it made each of us closely examine an author's style. The rhythm of their writing. The way they use punctuation. Their word choice.

      After we felt we were familiar with our author's style, we were asked to insert three different sentences into the passage, and if we matched their style well, it would appear as if it were a single, seamless piece. Of course, we hoped that the other educators would not be able to sniff out the impostor insertions.

       If you could write like anyone, who would it be, and why?