Master Class: Lesson 4

Lesson 4 was about voice. Every writer goes through the process of finding his own voice by failing to mimic his favorite famous authors. Eventually, the mistakes become your voice because those are the parts that can’t help but sound like you.

I went through this in a very familiar way, my early work sounding cripplingly like Hemingway in both voice and subject matter before I moved onto Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. It took time, not quite 10,000 hours, but long enough, before I started to feel comfortable with my own voice.

The assignment was to imitate another writer. Since I’ve been through this process already (the masterclass is really oriented toward beginning writers) I decided to have some fun with it by doing my soundalike on the crusty old professor, Neil himself.

It’s just a paragraph or three:

It was a cold Tuesday in December when Donnie Prankum fell into the hole. He could be forgiven his misstep because it was not the sort of hole one noticed on a cold Tuesday in December. It wasn’t a pothole, or a chuckhole, or even an open manhole. It was a tear between two worlds; the world that Donnie Prankum knew all too well and a world of mystery.

He caught himself with his arms and hung there for a moment, his head and shoulders in the same old world and his bottom half dangling in mystery. Then, looking around, he lifted his arms and allowed himself to fall the rest of the way through.

And that is how Mrs. Merrill Prankum lost her only son.

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