Sunday, February 5, 2012

This Week's Practice Exercise

Imitation (Version 2)

Prepared by: Gene Schmidt
Reposted on: Sun, 4 Feb 2012

---------------------

For the exercise, in 400 words or less, take a character from a story you're writing, or make up a totally new character, and provide a first appearance that is as mysterious and awe-inspiring as Jay Gatsby's in the excerpt below. Raymond Chandler has said that he taught himself to write fiction by selecting the best detective stories he could get his hands on and then rewriting them in his own style in order to learn the technique and see how it was done. So, why shouldn't we try the same thing? The assignment this week is to rewrite the following excerpt in your own style.

---------------------

The excerpt is from The Great Gatsby, the famous scene where Jay Gatsby makes his first appearance. Nick Carraway, the narrator, is taking the evening air by the ocean after an eventful dinner with the Buchanans. He notices a figure strolling across the lawn in the shadows next door, and determines it is his neighbor, Mr. Gatsby.

"I decided to call to him. Miss Baker had mentioned him at dinner, and that would do for an introduction. But I didn't call to him, for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone--he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward---and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness."

That passage is flawless. There's a sense of mystery about Gatsby--he is seen only in shadow--and also a sense of almost magic in the way he appears and disappears. There is an indication of strong emotion associated with the man, the way he 'trembles' as he stretches his arms toward the water. There is further mystery in the green light he appears to be reaching toward. At this point, we know nothing about Gatsby, yet few characters in fiction have ever made such an impressive entrance.

---------------------

For the exercise, in 400 words or less, take a character from a story you're writing, or make up a totally new character, and provide a first that is as mysterious and awe-inspiring as Jay Gatsby's in the excerpt below. Raymond Chandler has said that he taught himself to write fiction by selecting the best detective stories he could get his hands on and then rewriting them in his own style in order to learn the technique and see how it was done. So, why shouldn't we try the same thing? The assignment this week is to rewrite the following excerpt in your own style.

---------------------

In your critique you'll want to discuss how the writer introduces his/her character. Is the character introduced in a 'mysterious and awe-inspiring' way? Does the author's use of language, imagery, pacing, voice, landscape or weather contribute to oblique or mysterious presentation? If you don't think that the piece is successful, tell the author why and how it could be improved.
These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writing Workshop.

No comments:

The Craft of Writing in the Blogosphere

Loading...

News from the World of Writing

Loading...