This program is made possible through a generous gift from Ruth and Russell Bolton
in conjunction with the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

They're Sexy Writers, and They Know It

We were a small but stylish group in the Honors Dorm last Tuesday. As everyone read their work it became clear that no one at the table would end up on writing's worst dressed list. We started the night by talking about some style faux-paus both of the writing and fashion variety (just say no to tights as pants and adverbs). We then moved on to making some bad style choices of our own, writing about getting to class in an inappropriate style. One student wrote in the voice of Yoda (very crowded, it was). Another wrote in the style of an incident report (Mr. Smith left the Honors dorm at 3:25 to get to his 3:30 class). While it was funny to write, we agreed that it was hard to sustain a style that wasn't our own and that didn't feel right for the piece.

After talking about what makes for good style (an understanding of diction, syntax, and literary devices; being well-read; and having self-confidence in your own ability), we decided to demonstrate how everyone has a unique voice. We all wrote a story starting with the first line, "It had already started to snow when the PRT arrived." While everyone's stories picked up on common threads of the PRT -- the crowds, the wait, the likelihood of a breakdown-- we all had vastly different stories and vastly different styles. By the end of the night, it became clear: if writing had a red carpet, Joan Rivers would have nothing to say to us.

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