Be Yourself Because It’s Too Damn Hard To Be Somebody Else

Oct82012

Robert Parker did his doctoral dissertation on Raymond Chandler, so when Putnam needed somebody to complete Chandler’s last novel, Poodle Springs, they called on Parker. He did a magnificent job of mimicking Chandler’s style, but when Putnam asked him to write another Chandler, he declined. It was just too damn hard writing in somebody else’s voice, even a voice he knew as well as he knew Chandler’s. And now I know what he was talking about.

The assignment for the third McDaniel module in the first romance writing course was to write an original fragment of a fictional narrative in the style of one of the romance novels we had read for the course. Micki, one of our Argh people, asked if I’d do the assignment with them, and I said, “Sure.” I took three of the different authors we studied and rewrote the start of a WIP I’ve had on ice for awhile, trying to make the same narrative choices they did and adapting individual phrases to try to capture their voices. The exercises are short, only about four hundred words each, but I almost lost my freaking mind. The urge to lapse into my own style was overwhelming. I don’t know how Parker did it for an entire novel.

Rather than tell you what happened as I mutilated the styles of three writers I admire, I thought I’d show you. The first three beginning excerpts below are my exercises, followed by my notes on their styles and my reactions to mimicking them, mostly whining about wanting to write more dialogue. The fourth excerpt is the original beginning to my WIP.

ONE:
“I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Alice Archer tossed her long straight white-blond hair, almost dislodging the black stocking tied carelessly on top of her head, and leaned her hip on the desk, one hand in the front pocket of her long black jersey hoodie, the other rubbing the side of her black-and-white-striped leggings.

Emma Broadbent regarded her cautiously. “Did you reach your parents?”

“They’re out of town, Miss Broadbent. I called my uncle. He’s coming in.”

“Oh.” Emma observed the girl who was her most disconcerting student. Alice was tall and slender, exotic and odd and mature in a faintly ominous way, gliding through the halls as if she owned the school, wearing Mary Janes that commandos would wear if commandos wore Mary Janes.

Alice had been an anomaly since she’d entered the school at eight. Each succeeding year, she was at the top of her class without ever dominating the classroom, popular without ever being at the center of any one group, admired without ever being mimicked. It was as if the girl was there but not there, a fifteen-year-old but not a teenager, staring back at everyone across an invisible divide. “She’s never any trouble,” her teachers all said, but they said it nervously, as if the fact that she’d never been any trouble didn’t mean there wasn’t something big coming down the road, that if Alice Archer ever decided to make trouble, it would be something that possibly they couldn’t handle, that possibly the school couldn’t handle, that possibly the universe couldn’t handle.

“Alice, I think I should probably talk to your parents, not your uncle.”

“Southie’s a good guy,” Alice said. “He’s probably easier to talk to than my dad.”

Anybody would be easier to talk to than Alice’s dad; his cool disinterest was terrifying in its competence and disconcerting in its extreme handsomeness. That kind of power had to be genetic. You couldn’t learn to be like North and Alice Archer, it had to be buried in your DNA.

“You’re a lot like your dad,” Emma said.

“He’s my stepfather. My parents are dead.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. I’m well-adjusted, I get good grades, and I have no cavities. North and Andie have the parenting thing covered.”

Heaven, Texas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips:
General Notes:
Starts with dialogue from first line.
POV character describes hero in his head, gives back story, without betraying anything of his own character; focus is entirely on hero, mythologizing him. Observer narrator.
Conversational conflict.
Moves into colloquial dialogue, lots of white space on the page.
Gestures and details:
Hero’s clothes, walk
POV character’s unwilling admiration
POV character’s straightening papers to gain time, composure
“regarded him cautiously,” “observed the man who was his most important client”
My Reaction: Really interesting to see how Susan gets her hero in place as such a larger than life character. I had a hard time not characterizing the observer narrator, but his anonymity is why the hero is so front and center. I also had a hard time not skipping all the observations and just letting them talk: Dialogue is my life.

TWO

It made sense that North Archer’s daughter would be as cool and damn-your-eyes as her son-of-a-bitch father.

The fact was, teacher’s conference or no teacher’s conference, Bradley Stanton muttered those words into Alice’s teacher’s ear as they stood looking at the slender, raccoon-eyed fifteen-year-old girl standing in front of them.

Emma Broadbent ignored her principal. She didn’t want Alice to feel as though she were in trouble. Alice was in enough trouble already without adding that. The whole school was talking about Alice seeing ghosts. Half the students thought she was crazy, and the other half thought she had special powers, and both halves thought she was awesome. That’s what Kellie, the girl who’d ratted her out had called her, talking about how she’d stood in that storeroom and faced down a ghost and been just awesome. Kellie hadn’t seen the ghost, but she’d known it was there because it had gotten really cold in the storeroom and because Alice had said so and Alice was, well, awesome.

It had been pretty clear that Alice did not feel the same way about Kellie and her big mouth.

Wasn’t it interesting, Emma mused, that Alice did nothing to court the admiration of her fellow students and got it regardless, just by being Alice. Emma liked to think of her as Ohio’s Buffy; if vampires showed up, she was absolutely certain that Alice would pull out her number two pencil, jab viciously to the right and the left taking out all comers, and then return to her multiple choice test, acing it.

She remembered the first time she’d seen Alice walk into her classroom. The other kids had jostled each other in the doorway, but nobody had jostled Alice. Nobody would dare.

Alice Archer stood very still, waiting patiently as her English teacher and her school principal watched her.

“Did you reach your parents, Alice?” the principal said.

His voice was kind of smarmy, like he knew something she didn’t but he didn’t want to make her mad. Or probably didn’t want to make her father mad. She could have told him that North almost never got mad at anybody and never got mad at her, so if he was thinking he was going to get her in trouble, he was wrong as usual.

“They’re out of town, Mr. Stanton.” Alice and braced herself to receive his reaction.

Montana Sky, Nora Roberts:
General Notes:
Starts in a character’s head who’s never heard from again to provide an over view of the story. Observer narrator.
Talks about the protagonist’s father, not the protagonist. All back story.
POV character gives back story without ever thinking of his own life.
Thinks in vernacular.
Then switches into protagonist’s POV
All interior monologue, ending with short dialogue, slightly formal speech.
Gesture and detail:
Start with the unanchored hook, interior monologue: “Being dead didn’t make Jack Mercy less of a son of a bitch.”
Muttering into companion’s ear about the protagonist. “The fact was, funeral or no funeral, Bethanne Mosebly muttered those sentiments inot her husband’s ear”
“Wasn’t it interesting,” mused.
Details are all internal monologue, not much gesture until end when switches into protag’s POV; even then she “stood still,” “braced herself,” passive not active.
My Reaction: It made me crazy to write without dialogue for so long. And again, hard time not characterizing the observer narrators. Fun writing all that back story, though.

THREE:

Three sharp raps on the metal door frame signaled that her student conference had arrived. She pulled out her chair, positioned as always under the big blond wood teacher’s desk, and sat down, motioning for her student to come in.

Alice Archer, a slender, raccoon-eyed fifteen-year-old girl, walked into the room as if she owned it, acknowledging Emma with a cautious nod. Emma cleared the papers from in front of her and motioned her to a seat, but Alice remained standing.

Emma knew from her own experience that Alice wasn’t just in trouble, she was troubled, and troubled teenagers could not be ignored. “Did you reach your parents, Alice?”

“They’re out of town, Miss Broadbent.” Alice leaned against the desk, one hand in the front pocket of her long black jersey hoodie, the other rubbing the side of her black-and-white-striped leggings.

With a concerned expression, Emma leaned forward. “Do you have someone taking care of you?”

Alice nodded. “I called my uncle. He’s coming in.”

At fifteen, Alice was a striking girl, the only student Emma ever felt disconcerted by. Alice, with her long straight white-blond hair tied carelessly on top of her head with what looked like a black stocking, was exotic and odd and mature in a faintly ominous way.

Emma put the heels of her sensible flats together under the desk and reminded herself that she was the teacher here, and then remembered that Alice didn’t wear sensible flats, Alice wore the kind of Mary Janes that commandos would wear if commandos wore Mary Janes. She towered over Emma now, would still tower over her if Emma stood up, at least six inches taller. Emma had once described it as trying to talk to statue; Alice came with her own pedestal.

Emma shuffled through the papers on her desk again, trying to find the report she’d filled out on Alice. She needed to have details to deal with Alice. She needed even more to deal with Alice’s father, and now, probably his uncle.

“Southie’s a good guy,” Alice said reassuringly into her silence. “He’s probably easier to talk to than my dad.”

With all seriousness, Emma replied, “I really should be talking to your father.”

Indigo, Beverly Jenkins:
General Notes:
Doesn’t identify the POV character until the second paragraph
Drops in exposition; semi-omniscient (doesn’t break POV but moves out of Hester’s thoughts)
Lots of action, not a lot of dialogue.
Rich description. Lots of modifiers (although doesn’t abuse adverbs)
No antagonist so doesn’t break scenes at climaxes; no classic scene structure
Almost no dialogue (this is KILLING ME).
Gesture and detail:
Starts with sound: “Three loud thumps”
Precise description: “the rocker, positioned as always in front of the big bay window”
Used action in place of dialogue “acknowledged Hester with a terse nod”
Distant third person: “Hester knew from her own experience . . .” “With a shocked expression, Hester turned his way.”
My Reaction: I never realized I had such an addiction to dialogue until I did these three exercises. It took everything I had not to let these people talk.

FOUR:
Emma Broadbent smiled across her desk at the slender, raccoon-eyed fifteen-year-old girl standing in front of her. She didn’t want Alice to feel as though she were in trouble. Alice was in enough trouble already without adding that. “Did you reach your parents, Alice?”

“They’re out of town, Miss Broadbent.” Alice leaned against the desk, one hand in the front pocket of her long black jersey hoodie, the other rubbing the side of her black-and-white-striped leggings. “I called my uncle. He’s coming in.”

“Oh,” Emma said, a little at a loss around the girl, the only student she ever felt at a loss around. Alice with her long straight white-blond hair tied carelessly on top of her head with what looked like a black stocking was exotic and odd and mature in a faintly ominous way.

Emma put the heels of her sensible flats together under the desk and tried to remind herself that she was the teacher here, and thought instead that Alice didn’t wear sensible flats, Alice wore the kind of Mary Janes that commandos would wear if commandos wore Mary Janes. Some day, Alice would wear stilletos as if she were barefoot. You just have to be born to that, Emma thought, and wondered what it would be to glide through life as if it were a cakewalk instead of dotting all her I’s and crossing all her T’s, checking behind her in case she’d forgotten something—

“Southie’s a good guy,” Alice said reassuringly into her silence. “He’s probably easier to talk to than my dad.”

Anybody would be easier to talk to than Alice’s dad; his cool disinterest was terrifying in its competence and disconcerting in its extreme handsomeness.

“You’re very like him,” Emma said.

“He’s my stepfather,” Alice said. “My parents are dead.”

“Oh.” Emma felt like hell. “I’m so sorry.”

“My mother died when I was born. My dad died eight years ago. I’m over it.”

“Oh,” Emma said again and kicked herself. You’re thirty-two and you can’t hold your own against a fifteen-year-old, she told herself, but to fair, the fifteen-year-old was Alice Archer.

“It’s okay,” Alice said. “I’m well-adjusted, I get good grades, and I have no cavities. North and Andie have the parenting thing covered.”

Emma smiled brightly at her. “Well, that’s—”

There was a knock on the door frame and she looked over to see a brown-haired version of North Archer—tall, good-looking, well-dressed, and absolutely confident—raising his eyebrows at her.

“Miss Broadbent,” he said, and Emma thought, Oh, hell, another Archer.

“I’m Sullivan Archer, Alice’s uncle.” He came in and looked at Alice with great affection. “What have you done now, Trouble?”

“I didn’t do anything,” Alice said. “Except say the wrong thing in front of Kellie who cannot keep her mouth shut.”

“Well, we’re done with Kellie then,” Sullivan Archer said amiably.

He switched his smile to Emma, who smiled back. Anyone would have.

“Can you release her to my custody? I’m sure we’ve got an ankle bracelet around the place that’ll keep her grounded for a week.”

Ghost of a Chance, Jennifer Crusie:
General Notes:
Thank god. Dialogue.

Filed in Writing

51 Comments to 'Be Yourself Because It’s Too Damn Hard To Be Somebody Else'

On October 8, 2012 at 1:59 am Jessie said...

I love this. All of them work. You in your own voice works better. It’s the first time in weeks that I’ve gone as long as 15 minutes without thinking of surgery coming up on Tuesday or potential cancer. I will buy it. I will tell all my friends to buy it. Hell, I might buy it and give it to them. Although I am also waiting for Liz.

If things go south for me, I want you to know that you have given me an indescribable amount of amusement joy and some of my best times in the last year have been spent in your company.

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:16 am CrankyOtter said...

Jessie, just make sure you keep teaching out to friends and family. When you succeed, they want to be part of your success. When you have bad days, some of them will want to comfort you. My brother even has a friend he calls his “foul weather friend”; he might miss your wedding but he’ll drive you to the hospital himself and visit every day. I’m reminded over and over again not to wait until I’m feeling “good” or “better” before putting myself out there, so I want to make sure you won’t hide yourself either – I don’t have anything that will kill me directly, just depressive/ chronic fatigue issues that come and go, but there’s a real temptation to not let people see me when I’m feeling lousy. But seeing other people is almost always better than suffering alone. Cheers and best wishes!

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:17 am CrankyOtter said...

Argh. Teaching = reaching.

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On October 8, 2012 at 2:16 am Jenny said...

Things will not go south. No matter what the diagnosis is, you’ll come back. They have amazing treatments now, and a fighting attitude will help even more. Get mad.
It’s been just a little over thirty years since I was diagnosed with Stage Three cancer, so I’m not just being Mary Sunshine, you can do this.
Also, you’re an Argh Person. We fight to the last ditch.

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On October 8, 2012 at 2:28 am Jessie said...

Thank you. If the last ditch appears, I will get out my trenching shovel and dig another one.

Ignore me, I am being self indulgent and know that there is very little chance of it being fatal. But Jeez I have had both knees replaced, carpal tunal twice, trigger finger, appendectomy, two biopsies and shingles on my face and in my mouth and in my ear in the last 10 years and this is getting old. I am getting my share of surgery and at least two other peoples. Am planning on having Welcome to Temptation on my Kindle. I plan on being Sophie in my next life – without Chad, of course.

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On October 8, 2012 at 2:39 am Jessie said...

Sorry. I don’t know how that reply appeared twice. Is using the computer like learning how to put on mascara? Some women immediately have long dark lashes. The rest of us look like we duked it out for 10 rounds.

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On October 8, 2012 at 2:52 am Jenny said...

I deleted the repeat.

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On October 8, 2012 at 2:52 am Jenny said...

You are not being self-indulgent.
And believe me, I know what you mean about “this is getting old.”
Or maybe I’m just getting old. Do not kick my tires; they’ll probably fall off.

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm inkgrrl said...

Y’all come sit by me. We may not have all our original parts, we may have visible scar tissue in a few spots, but damn if we don’t have fun!

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On October 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm Deborah Blake said...

You still have tires? Wow–you’re doing well. I’m pretty sure I’m doing that Flintstone thing where I’m running really fast to keep my chaise off the ground :-)

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On October 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm Deborah Blake said...

Hang in there, Jessie! We’re rooting for ya.

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On October 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm Glee said...

Yes we do and good Cherry vibes help immensely. I know because they truly helped me. Sound out when you need extras.

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On October 8, 2012 at 3:43 am Louise said...

I love this…thank you! Hey Jessie. Sure it’s scary, but dig the crap out of that ditch.
Thinking of you and Jenny ;-)

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:05 am CrankyOtter said...

Wow. Very cool. If you learned something yourself while doing it, it sounds like a valuable exercise. Given the number of writers who get told to “write like themselves” who think they are, but really they want to write just like you or Lani or La Nora… To move the imitation from the subconscious to the conscious will let students feel the difference between which struggles they’re having because of the work and which are because they’re trying to write like someone they are not.

I often find that I don’t like books that my favorite authors love. I suspect it’s because they (y’all?) like books that you would never be able to write. Kind of how I’m fascinated by sports involving balance because I have none. But then I try those books and they’re nothing like the writing style I like from the author, and probably 2/3 of the time I don’t see what they see. I persist, tho, because I also know that they’re (y’all’re) pro storytellers and know a good thing when they (you) see it. And the 1/3 are usually fantastic.

So…. I think your style notes are why you’re a great teacher – you can put into words things that would pass me, and many others, by. I’m now envisioning a work of “100 style sheets” where you have one of these for a hundred different authors, modern and historical (I want Mark Twain and Jane Awesome.). If you care, I like the “gene theory” placement best in #1, and would eventually like the Kellie detail from #2, but I liked yours best. All three “not you” styles confused me to where I had to stop and figure out who was there, what was going on, who the heck was talking, etc. and then you explained in a few words why I really don’t prefer reading the most prolific romance author, beloved my millions. Too much passive voice drives me mad. (come to think of it, the worst writing scores I ever got were on lab reports because I could not stay on passive voice to save my grade. Very similar to this exercise.)

Thank you very much for sharing. I know we should be nice and say follow your muse, And I say that and mean it, but I’m seriously hoping your muse returns to writing stories for us again in the not too distant future.

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On October 8, 2012 at 6:44 am Mary Stella said...

Thank you for doing the assignment too, Jenny. Is it wrong of me to be a teensy bit glad that you had trouble too? I tried to emulate Bobby Tom’s voice and approach to a situation. Now I think that I was so knotted up in that aspect that I’m not sure if the details and gestures are significant enough. Still, it was a great exercise with a different approach to studying voice and style.

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On October 8, 2012 at 10:49 am Jenny said...

I think just doing the assignment teaches you all you need to know, even if you don’t nail the voice. I don’t think any of the three of mine capture the authors’ voices, but I’d never looked at any of them that closely before, or realized how much I depend on dialogue. I knew I did, I just didn’t realize how mUCH.

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On October 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm Mary Stella said...

Is that really a dependence? If so, is it wrong? Your dialogue is masterful. The smartness and cleverness are part of what makes your books Crusies.

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm inkgrrl said...

I love seeing the results of this exercise. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also a pain in the ass. Agree that the bit written in your voice reads the best. The others feel too distant to me, and I really hope you get that book written at some point because I’d love to find out what happens next ;-)

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On October 8, 2012 at 9:10 am Micki said...

(-: OMG, this was a tough assignment, but . . . it was one I learned a lot from. And now that I’ve read the notes, I’ve got a little more work to do!

I wanted to mimic you for the assignment, and the first thing that went wrong was that you do dialogue (wonderful, fantastic dialogue that does 11 jobs all at once!) but the assignment called for detail and gesture. And the second problem was that I couldn’t get Shar to talk to me . . . her gynecologist was all chatty, but not her. So I am very glad you are doing the job of Jenny Crusie so I don’t have to (-:.

This was so valuable to see what you’ve done with these, and the kind of things you — a great writer — are looking at when you analyze these stories. Thanks so much!

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On October 8, 2012 at 10:56 am dw said...

There’s a metaphor hiding in there, somewhere.

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On October 8, 2012 at 11:39 am JulieB said...

Well, I definitely like yours the best, with SEP’s a close second. With the other two, I really had problems, although SEP’s style had really set it up so nicely. I was confused by the principal and I didn’t like the POV switch. Heh. I know it probably would have made me re-read years ago, because it really is an unclear thing to do, but until I’d started visiting ArghInk, I wouldn’t have know why.
The thing I like the best is what you’ve been pointing out all along about your style. You let the characters speak for themselves and drive the story. It’s a real balance, trying to let the characters do that, but not have them float around in a vague ether. I think that’s why yours and SEP’s work the best, IMO.

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On October 8, 2012 at 11:42 am JulieB said...

To clarify, I didn’t mean I’d had problems with the SEP style; I meant that I’d gotten confused even though I’d read the SEP style first, and that structure had set up the scene very clearly.

And oddly, I started to write my comment as though everyone else had actually written the scenes, so bravo to you.

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On October 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm katyL said...

Now I want to see the Commando Mary Janes.

This was great to read, thanks for sharing. Since I’m in the “more dialogue” camp too, I’m partial to the last entry. And I want to read that book. Think I mentioned in another comment, though, that I hope the Alice book also includes bits with the guy stuck in the couch.

And Jessie, good luck with things. And ouch on the shingles in the mouth. I had shingles as a kid when everyone else got the chicken pox–painful as heck. Can only imagine what it must have been like to have them in the mouth. If you can get through that, you can get through anything:)

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On October 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm Gin said...

Donna Andrews did something similar with the beginning to one of her books for a conference. Not a specific author’s style, but a more generalized genre voice. If you don’t read her, she writes really light-hearted, family-centric, small-town-based mysteries (with a female blacksmith as the protagonist!), and she challenged herself to re-do the beinning of The Penguin Who Knew Too Much in a noir style. It’s here: http://donnaandrews.typepad.com/donna_andrews/2012/04/penguin-noir.html

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On October 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm Deborah Blake said...

Gin–I love Donna Andrews! So clever and funny. (And she plays Words with Friends with me, which is one of the highlights of my day.)

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On October 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm Jo Walton said...

Oh wow, somebody for Southie!

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm Sure Thing said...

Guess Southie needed to do a heckload of growing up.

Jenny- you rock.

Jessie- Sending healing vibes.

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm oneoftheotherjennifers said...

That was amazing. You nailed the authors so well I could identify the book by the 3rd sentence of the first excerpt, the 1st sentence of the second excerpt, and the 2nd sentence of the third excerpt.

Who is the protagonist in this book? It sure as heck seems like Alice, but that’s pretty young for one of your protagonists, and knowing your abhorrence of prologues I’m not seeing that as the explanation here. Would this be a YA? And then there’s your version. If I had read only your version, I would wonder if Emma is the protagonist. It’s her POV, in which she thinks/feels “hell” twice, and that’s a common thought for your protagonists. I’m still assuming it’s Alice, though, since you pretty much come out and say so.

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On October 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm Jenny said...

It’s supposed to be Emma, but this is an early draft of a hibernating ms (probably wrote it three years ago) so it’s all over the place. Also Alice was easier to mythologize than Emma, so I went that route.

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On October 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm Pam said...

I liked your version best. It had that easy Cruise style that says “Come with me, this is going to be fun.” And I’ve always adored Alice.

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On October 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm Olga Godim said...

That was fantastic, Jenny! Funny and educational and as tempting as chocolate. I want to read the book. But I must admit I like your own version the best. Not surprising really; of the four writers mentioned, I like your books best too.
For a writer, especially the beginner writer, I think it’s a very useful exercise and a very hard one. You did it perfectly, but I doubt many writers could. I couldn’t. Although now I know about it, I’ll try.
Thank you.

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On October 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm Katie said...

This was interesting to read; definitely agree that the original is the best. And of course now I want to read all about Alice’s teenage years. Fun to see Southie again, too.

I also want to read my copy of Poodle Springs, but I should probably start with all the unread Chandler sitting on my shelves. I seem to have bought a lot of his stuff, and then never got around to reading it. I’ve always been more of a Hammett kind of girl.

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On October 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm Deborah Blake said...

I loved all four versions, and would read all those books, but like everyone else, I like the Crusie version best. (What can I say; there is a LOT of dialogue in the books I write. Well, the novels. Not so much the nonfiction. That would just be weird.)

PLEASE write this book. Pretty please?

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On October 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm Notsomaverick said...

It took me years to learn this lesson. I tried adopting the style of various — and wildly different — authors I admire (Susan Isaacs, Luanne Rice, Susan Wiggs and yes, of course, Jennifer Crusie) in hopes of getting the right balance of humor and emotion I envisioned for my stories. I could never get very far. My own style kept creeping through. Another thing I learned is I can’t write in observant narrator/distant third to save my life. Ditto first person — I end up confusing my POV character’s voice with my own. Up-close third comes most naturally to me. I used to whine that I’d never get published because no one else wrote what I wrote or the way I wrote it. Well, duh. Now I figure there’s a notsomaverick-shaped hole in the marketplace and it’s only a matter of time until I get there to fill it. Invaluable exercise!

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On October 9, 2012 at 6:55 am Clever Cherry said...

I loved this. The learning thing looking at the different voices and the few moments spent in Alice Archers world! Thanks for sharing, Jenny; generous as usual.
Take care, Jessie/

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On October 9, 2012 at 8:50 am Kimberly Hope said...

Please don’t try to be anybody else again. It’s a great exercise; I had a semester-long class that focused on a different author every week. It gives you tons of experience, but you channeling SEP was just wrong.

But I’m thrilled you’re writing something for Southie! Woo-hoo, the Archers are back!

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On October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am stephanie said...

I remember doing a similar exercise for Barbara Samuel’s ‘Voice’ class. It was a rough assignment even though I’m an excellent mimic. I seem to remember I tried to use ‘Bet Me’ or ‘Faking It’ as the reflection material. This was not an overwhelming success for me and finally I threw up my hands and said, “Oh, just Hell.”

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On October 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm Jenny said...

That’s usually my reaction while trying to write like me, too.

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On October 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm Kira said...

“if commandos wore Mary Janes” – that is purely you, Jenny. “Buffy in Ohio” might possibly be someone else (although I doubt it), but not the Mary Janes.

I do look forward to the Alice book, in your voice. Perhaps you could have it done by the time the inspiration for Alice turns 15?

(Why was she rubbing her tights? That’s creepy)

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On October 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm Kira said...

I just realized there wasn’t a birthday post this year, and I haven’t wished you happy birthday and a year full of success, health, joy, family, friends, love and confidence

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On October 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm Jenny said...

Thank you!
This year has been such hell, I’ve just been trying to get through it, so I didn’t spend much time on the birthday, although Krissie handed me a sugar free cupcake with a candle in it when I visited her the day after.

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On October 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm Sure Thing said...

Just because I saw it and want to share, the line that jumped out at me as being most Crusie:
“Well, we’re done with Kellie then,” Sullivan Archer said amiably.

Being done with someone or something is a feature of your books. This includes but is not limited to: Quinn being done with giving up strays, Cal being done with his mother (“she’s been a bitch my whole life and I’m done with her” – paraphrased because I’m too lazy to go look for it since my real bookshelves are gone and I got the new closets made to include book-space), Sophie done with running cons, Tilda done with forgeries (or murals – take a pick) and Andie being done with North’s money.

I understand that as both a jumping-off point of novel and as a turning point.

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On October 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm Jenny said...

Huh. It must be one of my Things. Like “just hell.”

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On October 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm Redwood Kim said...

You know that part where you said no more fiction? The Alice stories are the ones I will really, really miss. She’s a fascinating character. But you write her, please, commando shoes and all. (Did you call Bob for design details?)

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On October 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm Jenny said...

Bob’s entire fashion knowledge is “The belt should match the shoes.” When I told him that wasn’t necessarily true, he was lost.

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On October 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm Ericka said...

on ice? please please please tell me that it’ll happen. make me a very happy woman and say it’ll happen soon. please?

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On October 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm Jenny said...

I have absolutely no idea what’s happening to me tomorrow, let alone the stories.
Working on getting to a stable life here, then we’ll see.

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On October 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm PG said...

Oh wow did I recognize the Nora Roberts one (though it made me think more of the Eve Dallas series than of Montana Sky, which I don’t remember well). Maybe it’s just the 100-odd books of hers that I’ve read, but I could really see her style in your exercise despite my never having thought much about “What is Nora Roberts’s writing style?”

The SEP had an interesting gender reversal to it, since she mythologizes her heroes but rarely her heroines and the ones with mythologized heroines seem less popular. So inasmuch as one believes in the reader-identification-with-heroine thing, I felt a little disinclined toward Alice as heroine because she seemed too perfect for reader identification.

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On October 13, 2012 at 9:33 am Christina said...

So, Alice is basically Susan Sto-Helit with less skeletons and equal amounts of black? Sign me up for the Alice fan club please :)

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On October 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm Cindy said...

Historical ROMANCE:
Not Quite a Husband, Sherry Thomas
The Spymaster’s Lady, Joanna Bourne
Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase

Contemporary Romantic Comedy (aka ROMANCE)
Ain’t She Sweet?, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie (the novel I use to introduce people to Romance)

Paranormal ROMANCE
Dark Lover, J.R. Ward
Maybe This Time, Jennifer Crusie

Women’s Fiction
Sugar Daddy, Lisa Kleypas (It’s Romance, but many people complain that it reads like Women’s Fiction.)

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On October 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm Cindy said...

Jeesh…How did I manage to post in the wrong area?!

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