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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Writing Like Another Writer - Murakami

My apologies for not being around to post or follow other people's blogs recently. I'm caught up with school and a performance of Oleanna which I'm starring in with one of my brilliant teachers and friends.

Meanwhile, in my Literature class, our assessment task is to write a short story that could fit in with the other short stories in after the quake by Haruki Murakami. In preparation, we were given the task of choosing one of the minor characters and writing something from their point of view, 600-800 words. The point is to try and adopt Murakami's style as best we can. My practice short story was about Frog from Super-Frog Saves Tokyo and it's set before the original short story.

It proved to be a bit of a challenge to me. I don't usually write out a plan for short stories; that's something I usually only do for chapter-length work. But it was a requirement for the class. Then there was sticking to the word limit. I'll say now, my practice story was NOT 600-800 words. It was over 1000. But my teacher said that was okay, it's just as long as when we do the assessment, I am able to write the full story within the time-limit (which is normally around 100 minutes).

What I found most challenging was trying to adopt the style of another writer. It's easy enough to start and end a short story suddenly. It's something many authors do with their short stories. But Murakami only describes certain things about the characters and we only really meet them at first on a surface level. Everything else he writes is really to the point and he doesn't pretty anything up. He writes about things as they are and it really pulls the reader in.

I think the actual assessment task will be much easier. I get to make up a character and a story myself, instead of using something Murakami has already made. I'm actually a little bit excited for this :)

Have you ever tried to write like another writer? How did you find it? 

- Bonnee.

12 comments:

  1. That's an interesting challenge. I don't think I've ever been given an assignment to directly mimic another writer; I don't know how well I'd do with that, but I DO know I'd have a hard time falling within the word range. Writing 6-800 words is easy, unless I'm told I have to write 6-800 words.

    And congratulations on Oleanna! Break a leg, as they say!

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    1. I'm looking forward to the assignment itself, because I get to create my own character. But using one of the pre-existing characters made me feel a little claustrophobic as a writer. And slightly better news, turns out the word-count for the actual thing is 1000.

      :)

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    2. A little extra breathing room! Good for you. And in case you didn't see it, you've been tagged for the Be Inspired Bloghop Meme, details at my own little blog.

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  2. When a writer has a distinctive style I think it can be hard to emulate it, as you found out with Murakami. I have tried to imitate other authors' writing styles when I was younger, mostly because I was still trying to figure out my own style (I think I'm still undergoing that pursuit!) and that author had blown me away. After I read Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell anything creative I wrote was based around that. I loved Orwell's style and writing so much, I was so inspired! I eventually moved away from it, but it can be a good exercise sometimes, to try out something new. It makes me laugh to think about it anyhow.

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    1. I think it's definitely a good thing for me to be trying, and at any rate, I'm going to end up writing a (hopefully 'good') short story in the assessment. I still need to read Nineteen Eighty Four! I hear you going on about how good you think it is all the time! :)

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  3. Good question. Although I've never consciously tried to emulate another writer, when I read someone's work that absolutely love, my own subconscious makes a play to emulate what inspired me in their work.

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    1. That's awesome :D

      Two of the short stories in this collection were adapted into stage plays, and I want to get a copy of it so my drama group can put it on. Also, if I can get the rights, I'd eventually like to adapt some of the other stories for the stage.

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  4. Congrats for starring in the play. I'm always amazed how actors can remember all the lines. Pam van Hylckama, an America literary agent, is looking for interns who read quickly and gives comments on manuscripts. Usually interns do it online, so they can be far away. Her e-mail pam.vhv@gmail.com
    If you can do it, you'll have close contacts with an American literary agent who can help your writing career. You seems to be very busy, but maybe it's for you.
    No way that I can write like someone else. I barely can write like myself ..:)

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    1. Oh we didn't remember all of our lines by any means, but we're good enough that we could save ourselves with improvisation :)

      That would be totally awesome to have this agent as a contact, except that I'm halfway through my final year at this point, and I am putting study before most other things. I'd be terrified of letting such a great contact down, so thank you so much for the suggestion, but if I go for the opportunity, it will be after my exams in November. Though that would be so cool!!!

      Maybe trying to write like someone else will help you write more like yourself ;) Give it a shot some time! It's challenging, in a good way.

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  5. What an iteresting assignment. I don't think I could write like anyone else, although some authors inspire me enough to inffluence my writing for a day or so.

    You amaze me how much you accomplish during a day. Good luck with your play.

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    1. I've noticed that I'm starting to use the language my character in the play uses... not cool!!! But I get what you mean about brilliant writers influencing your own style at times :)

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