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  • Writer's pictureElsie King

A Jane Austen writing exercise

I'm fortunate to be a part of a writers group, Create/write who go well beyond the usual platitudes and actually promote robust and deep analysis of each other's work. It is always done with permission and we provide balanced and respectful critiques along with positive feedback. We also have a lot of fun and learn about different writing styles.

One of our members Linda E. provided an exercise where she read a page from a famous author, then did a synopsis and then rewrote it in her own style for comparison. Last time I blogged I provided a paragraph from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Chapter 24. I thought it might be interesting to write out the original paragraph and then rewrite it in my style.

The Jane Austen paragraph

'To oblige you, I would try to believe almost any thing, but no one else could be benefited by such a belief as this; for were I persuaded that Charlotte had any regard for him, I should only think worse of her understanding, than I do now of her heart. My dear Jane, Mr Collins is a conceited, pompous, narrow minded, silly man; you know he is, as well as I do; and you must feel, as well as I do, that the woman who marries him, cannot have a proper way of thinking. You shall not defend her, though it is Charlotte Lucas. You shall not for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is prudence and in insensibility of danger, security for happiness.'

My rewrite

"Oh Jane, how can you say such a thing? I cannot for the life of me agree. Mr Collins is a pompous, conceited, narrow minded, silly man and any woman who marries him cannot be thinking clearly. And I cannot accept that Charlotte's heart will ever be engaged by such a man. It is impossible to contemplate that she would put aside her integrity and principals, and sacrifice her happiness and well-being, for such a poor match."

This is a good exercise which challenged me to encapsulates the meaning and style of Jane Austen's writing but make it more readable and less wordy. I hope I have captured the purpose of the prose, but still retained the style of writing in the Regency era. I will be taking it to my writers group for a robust analysis but would love to get some feedback from other readers.

Cheers Elsie King

© Elsie King 2023

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