Nick Flynn’s Writing Style and My Imitation


Imitation and Analysis

  1. Imitation (3-4 pages)

For this assignment, you will be narrating your own childhood memory imitating the style of Nick Flynn’s prose. You must imitate at least three stylistically different sections from the book.

Though the content will be your own, you should use your examples to inform decisions about subject, grammar, and style. You will want to look very closely at specific sections in order to replicate their effects. You might want to exaggerate certain elements of style in order to illustrate the choices Flynn makes.

You should pay close attention to all elements of the writer’s style, including purpose, form, subject, syntax, punctuation, sentence structures, rhythm, diction, tone, description, specificity, connotation, and so on.

Your imitation should include a specific event that is described in the first person. It should also reflect your personal interpretation of the book by Flynn. Whatever elements stand out as to you as being unique to him would be a good thing to try to imitate. It’s your decision how closely you want to imitate Flynn: you could take a few specific sentences and change a few elements to reflect your experience and sensibilities, or you could write a completely original story in the general style of the writer using elements that he seems to use often. You should imitate whatever stands out to you as being interesting. Consider elements of content (such as subject and mood) as well as elements of form (such as grammatical structures and word choice).

  1. Analysis (2-4 pages)

Using unified, coherent, well-developed paragraphs and grammatical and effective sentences, write an analysis discussing both the original and your imitations of them. Quote the passages you are discussing (don’t be afraid to quote yourself). Include highly specific references to particular elements (such as those listed above) that you noticed in the original and tried to convey in your imitation.

Address all the following considerations

  • What stylistic choices did Flynn make? Were these effective? How?
  • Do you feel Flynn’s style is compatible with the stories he tells?
  • What is the relationship between the style of the memoir and its content?
  • Did writing in different styles cause you to make choices you might not have made otherwise? Explain.
  • What did it feel like to write in this way?
  • Do you feel you were successful in your imitation? To what extent?
  • How did writing in this style influence the content of what you wrote?
  • Could you have done a better job if you were free to use your own, or a different, style?
  • What did you learn about your own writing from this assignment?

9 pages

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