Today’s writing-related Challenge of the Week, as posted on Innovative Editing’s Facebook page, is meant to downright torture you.
At least that’s the way I looked at it back when I was an author-wannabe English major in college.
You see, back then, there was this professor I avoided like the plague. The chair of the department, he had a reputation for being exceptionally challenging, playing favorites and calling on students to answer random questions mid-lecture.
If you didn’t know the answer, he’d level every ounce of disapproval his wide-shouldered, solid-framed, carefully groomed, six-foot-something self could muster. Which, to say the least, was a lot.
I heard horror stories about his one class, including how he’d make his students study up on famous authors, then have them write a whole entire essay modeled after one of their writing styles.
And woe to the person who didn’t nail it, because this professor had some really high expectations.
Worse yet, his writing style class was utterly mandatory for literature-focused English majors at Messiah College. There was no getting out of it without either hacking into the school system, transferring out or studying abroad.
Since I’m barely computer literate, had already transferred once by then and didn’t want to deal with the bother a second time, and had no intention of risking the disapproval of Professor Peter Powers, I hopped on a plane for a semester in England.
That was quite the experience all by itself, I have to admit, what with spiders as big as a Galaxy phone, national egos as fragile as an ornate tea cup, and plenty of incidents – British accents are apparently bad for American brains – to fuel my writing for years to come. But hey, at least I didn’t have to take that blasted writing style class. So all’s well that ends well.
Of course, this makes me something of a hypocrite, since I’m now recommending that you try out the exercise I worked so hard to avoid. I’d call myself a complete hypocrite, except that I’m not going to grade you or give you disapproving looks if you don’t meet some ridiculously high expectations.
So that counts for something. I think.
Also, I did make a few modifications in my version:
Try channeling your favorite author’s writing style.
Take a writing prompt. Any writing prompt. Though feel free to use one of Innovative Editing’s from the Innovative Editing Pinterest page. (Hint. Hint.)
After you have your writing prompt, then write about it like you’ve shed your own mind and adopted your favorite author’s instead. Model your sentence structure and word choices and attitude after that person.
The point of this exercise? It’s to test out your skills, as well as appreciate and understand your own style better.
Obviously, you don’t have to take this writing challenge up if you don’t want to. But if you do, you don’t have to study up on a bunch of boring, full-of-themselves, long-since-dead authors you’d never read on your own.
Nope! You get to go with your favorite author instead, someone who regularly captivates your attention and inspires you to be a better writer.
If I was going to do this exercise challenge – which I’m not, once again proving what a hypocrite I can be – I’d go with Kate Quinn, a historical-fiction writer who really needs to get something else out on the market already before I drown in a sea of uninspiring, worthless reads.
Editor’s Note: After writing the blog copy above, Jeannette DiLouie went onto Kate Quinn’s Amazon author’s page for dreary-eyed confirmation that she didn’t have anything new out.
DiLouie didn’t get to mope for long, however, as it turns out that Quinn does indeed have a novel coming out in less than two weeks!
In other words, said fangirl has already forgotten about her own writing challenge (which she was never going to do anyway, the hypocrite) and is busy ordering Quinn’s copy right now. So feel free to follow her lead and ignore the torture too, unless you’re really, really, really dedicated to strengthening your authorial abilities.