Rewrite Somebody Else’s Stuff

Need some writing practice? (Who doesn’t?) Want to keep the imagination warm without wracking your brain to come up with a new concept or project? Rewrite somebody else’s stuff.

Of course don’t try to publish the result unless your source material is in the public domain. Even then, however, I think the experience would be more rewarding without a mind toward publication. Experimentation is bolder that way.

I don’t mean fan-fiction, wherein you write your own adventures of previously establishes characters and settings, though that’s also an exercise worth looking into for some people. Nor do I mean tweaking classic stories into outlandish worlds, though of course, you can do that do, if that’s your thing.

What I mean, though, is choosing a story or novel that already exists, and transposing it, if you will, into your own voice, your own style; different aspects of the creative juices are sampled when one adheres to the original plot, settings and characterizations and recreates them in a different style. (As opposed to a different genre.)

It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if the prose you use doesn’t fit in with the time period, just go for it.

And don’t simply interpret your source text in a modern fashion. That would sound choppy and serve less of a purpose.The point is to internalize something enough to recreate it’s tone and plot in your own words, without losing the essence.

Consider:

1) “First things first; Marley was dead. You have to understand at least that much up front, or nothing I say from now is going to mean much.”

2) “I don’t know why exactly, but lately I feel numb. I’ve got no motivation to take up space in my own life. It’s gotten so bad that this enormous planet is now an empty rock to me, and the awesome sky above it amounts to little more than a collection of swirling almost poisonous gases.”

3) “Once, I became disoriented in the midst of a rather threatening, dark woods, the obvious path no where to be found. God, the place was so bizarre, dark and eerie that I get scared all over again just thinking about it.”

Do this, if not for an entire work, (though what an adventure for you that could be!) at least for more than a few sentences. Not only do you stand to gain a stronger understanding of your own writing, but perhaps a greater appreciation for the original work as well.

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