Session Six

Video-based training Self Stories writing workshops Video-based training Self Stories writing workshops

Session Six: Using a Different Literary Form Assignment

Rewrite one of your past assignments using a different literary form. For example, you may wish to turn one of your first-person memoirs into a poem or a letter, or a letter into a third-person narrative.

As you write, think about what details you need to include or exclude depending on what literary form you are writing in. Think about how the new form changes what you chose to say or not say about the event you are describing.

Samples of assignment

from “A Woman’s Mourning,” originally written as a 3rd-person story.

         The mourner is not young. She thinks of Mac’s head, his skull, the brain within, herself within that brain. A mush of tissue. Where was she in it?

         That brain slowed down. Perhaps a blood vessel broke. The brain’s function dimmed. What dims? When did she disappear from the gray coils, the synapses, the “stored stuff?”

         What was “she” when she was in there? How was she stored? The woman thinks: What is he, now, within my skull, moving across synapses, stored, how? Coming to me—how?

changed to “Letter to the World,” rewritten as a first-person story.

         I think of Mac’s head, his skull, the brain within, me within that brain. A must of tissue. Where was I in it?

         That brain slowed down. Perhaps a blood vessel broke. The brain’s function dimmed. What dims? When do I disappear from the gray coils, the synpases, the “stored stuff?” What was “I” when I was there? How was I stored?

         What is he, now, within my skull, moving across synapses, stored, how? Coming to me—how?

from “Listening to the Drum Beats,” originally written as a first-person story.

        One of the most memorable experiences of my mission work occurred in the little village of Chambon, population 600, located about 50 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince. The village had electricity but only a central town pump for water. People bathed and washed their clothes in the nearby irrigation ditches.

changed to “My Friend, the Bla,” rewritten as a third-person story, told from the perspective of a child in the mission where the writer performed volunteer work.

         I was only seven years old when I first saw him. He was with a group of “blahs” (white men) coming to my village to build a church. I have seen blas before, missionaries or medical teams having a clinic here. They must be very rich, all of the equipment they bring with them, and nice clothes and shoes. I’ve never had a pair of real shoes, only sandals made from a tire. They say a tire comes from a car but no car has ever been in my village.