The de copia exercise is useful in showing how style—the third canon of rhetoric (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery)—has a major impact on one’s writing. Paragraphs and essays that feature combined and varied sentences often shine the most.
For this exercise, I would like for you to try to transform your own writing to mimic another’s voice. This type of exercise is designed to help make you think about the choices a writer makes in designing his or her writing style.
You’ll complete four steps:
- Write a brief one-paragraph story that describes a key quality of yours to someone not in our class.
- Read the some sample passages and note their distinct writing styles. These are in very different genres, of course, but that’s part of the fun.
- Mimic one of those writing styles to re-tell your story. You can choose a different “audience” for your description if you’d like.
- Answer the questions: What choices did you make in re-designing your story? What obstacles did you face? How would you characterize your voice vs. the one you mimicked?