In this class, we students have to take on wildly different voices. The philosophy of the course is that the instructor presents writing samples from published stories (and poems) and we students copy the style. We use our own stories and ideas, but we have to take on the style, or persona, of the writer. That means everything from point of view to sentence style to mood. I've wanted to take this class for more than ten years, even though it's taught in another part of the country. Now they offer it online. It's described as a kind of high caliber boot camp for stretching your range. When I signed up, I thought it was going to be campy and fun, and instead I'm awake nights parsing out the style of this poet and that novelist to reconstruct it. Write a story in first person as a narrator of whole scenes. Write a story in first person as though writing a letter to someone, and use scenes. Write a story in first person but make another character the focus of the story, so it's really third person yet the narrator still (always) has to have a distinctive personality. Write in first person describing the actions of someone else in minute by minute detail but as imagined by the first person after having been described to him or her in the past by the other character. Okay, so the scene is present tense yet it happened in the past? My brain hurts, and it's only week four. I was awake last night from 2:00 to 5:00 working sentences over and over, and sort of crying off and on, not unhappily, just trying to grasp at something that was continuing to slip away, so I could finish the assignment today and post it. And after all that effort and spent emotion, gentle reader, I can now confess that the story I wrote wasn't very good.
Time to go back and read some more Conor McPherson plays. That first person persona thing is a skill he has down pat, ghosts and devils aside.