Friday, September 10, 2010

Writing Exercise: Mimicry

Here's a writing exercise I tried in my MFA class recently:

Pick an author whose style you admire. Then, copy a paragraph (or more) of that author's work by hand. By doing so, you are engaged in the act of writing their work, absorbing the rhythm of the language. Then, pick a topic to write about and mimic the style in your own paragraph. Use the same parts of speech and syntax, but change the words.

I tried it with a text from "We Like Mexican Movies," a short story by Sandra Cisneros. Here is my sensory memory using her style as an example, some of which I revised into my own story later.
I like San Francisco opera. We just dress ourselves up like dolls and sit, the cushions soft against our backs as Mom takes out her opera glasses. But then the show ends. The chandelier lights go on. She wakes me up – my eyes heavy and drooping like dead flowers – walks me in the chill to the Volkswagon that smells like motor oil and old leather. Mom has unrolled the blanket from the ‘way back’ and placed it over me in the back seat where I lay, turned on the heater hot against our legs, so when she parks again, it’s bedtime already, and I’m in her arms and dreamy.
Dear Reader:
What authors would you write like if you could? Did you ever try it? What were the results?



soulyluna said...

i'm inspired to try this

Yu said...

I think mimicry is a great way to learn about yourself. You find out what comes naturally, and what doesn't.

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