I hear you-all waiting eagerly and anxiously with bated breath for a thirteen lines challenge to brighten and liven your winter doldums. What a brutal winter. Lo! Here's a contest to challenge your creative mettle. [Please see Writing Challenges forum for contest entry thread under Post Voice Imitation.]
Calendar dates: Discussion and Contest opening date, open for entries beginning February 6th, 2014 Cutoff date for entries: February 28th, 2014 Cutoff date for votes: March 15th, 2014. No cutoff date for discussion or comment.
Imitate the voice in any manner you choose of a thirteen lines excerpt from a public domain narrative. Respecting copyright ownership is a duty of writers and, certainly, one we Hatrackers respect. Finding one to copy and imitate for this challenge can be accommodated by visiting Project Gutenberg or archive.org. Both of which host content from the public domain. Gutenberg's Science Fiction and Fantasy bookshelves are generous and focused sources. Some works published as late as 1963, their copyrights lapsed and they are in the public domain and available at Gutenberg. Or any narrative you choose, so long as it's from the public domain, please.
If you're inclined to go through the frustrating red tape, an exercise and challenge in its own right: You may use a copyrighted work, if you choose, though your entry must include licensing details and indicate express written permission to use such a work. Otherwise, you may not use a copyrighted work. Generally, I don't recommend and would prefer that no one enter a copyrighted work, though, please. Please respect intellectual property ownership. This is a duty for wrtiters, so that we may as well in good faith enjoy the fruits of our labors with peace of mind.
Posting Contest Entries
Post entries, one per member, please, in the Writing Challenges forum under the Post Voice Imitation thread. Open entry under your Hatrack member name so that contestants may revise, rewrite, rework as often as desired up through the cutoff date of February 28th, 2014, midnight or so of your time zone. Please post early and revise often so we all may follow your process.
Entry is open to any and all registered members, including Ms. Dalton Woodbury and moi.
An entry will have the source attribution first; i.e.;
Smith, Jane. "Mary Fairweather and the Broken Becoming." NewForum Press: May 1901, pp 26-27. Web. Project Gutenberg. 6 Feb 2014.
Author name. "Title." Original publisher: publication date, page range of excerpt. From the Web or Print source. Source excerpt copied from. Date of access. Or close to that degree of detail and informal attribution format.
Then the thirteen lines excerpt from the imitated narrative follows: novel or short story. Follow the public domain excerpt with the title of your thirteen lines voice imitation and then your original thirteen lines voice imitation. You may follow that with a brief paragraph expression of your approach. Brief, please, so that we all may comfortably read it and enjoy everyone else's entries as well.
Discuss Voice Imitation
Post discussion and questions and responses in the Writing Challenges forum under the Discuss Voice Imitation thread, this thread, please. Only post contest entries in the Post thread, please, until the cutoff date. Anyone may post discussions in the discussion thread about subjects related to voice imitation methods, philosophies, and theories, etc. Also, ask questions about any related subject. Also, respond to questions. Also, generally, contribute to and further the conversation.
Once the cutoff date has passed, any member may vote for strongest title, strongest win, place, or show voice imitation, and favorite entry. Vote for one or some or all ballot categories, as you prefer. One ballot per member, please. Enter votes in the Post Voice Imitation thread below the contestants' entries after the entry cutoff date February 28th, 2014. Cutoff for votes is March 15th, 2014.
Also, after the cutoff date, any member may post a critique as she or he sees fit, comment on none or one or all or some, extensively or briefly, respecting Hatrack rules of decorum and respect, please. Post comments below entries in the Post Voice Imitation thread.
You may enter your votes and comments in one post or in separate posts. One response post is preferred, including votes and comments. Please put votes at the top of the post, though, so vote tabulation is simplified. Cutoff for votes is March 15, 2014: The Ides of March, traditionally, the date of the Roman New Year's first full moon and, notoriously, Julius Caesar's date of assassination. Vini; Vidi; Vici: I came; I saw; I conquered--this writing challenge.
This writing contest is also a workshop writing exercise meant to challenge your voice skills hence why entries, voting, and comments are open and not blind entries or restricted. Please feel free and comfortable to revise your entries frequently up to the cutoff date.
Appendix: Voice Imitation Entry Sample and Template
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. First Folio: ca 1623, 2.2:1520–32. Web. Project Gutenberg. 5 Feb 2014.
Act II, Scene 2, lines 1520–32 (Polonius speaks of Troy's king's demise)
Of reverend Priam, seemed in the air to stick: So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood, And like a neutral to his will and matter, did nothing. But as we often see against some storm, A silence in the Heavens, the rack stand still, The bold winds speechless, and the orb below As hush as death: Anon the dreadful thunder Doth rend the region. So after Pyrrhus pause, Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work, And never did the Cyclops hammers fall On Mars his Armors, forged for proof eternal, With less remorse then Pyrrhus' bleeding sword Now falls on Priam.
The Talking To (Voice imitation)
But dear worshipped Melanie, stalled as if before a cliff: Thus as marbled monument Hillary likewise paused erect, Whom thought and purpose both held at the rest. Though as maelstrom occasion sighted, The cyclone eye clear, blue, calm, Breaths for naught, the Earth course unturned To fatal ends, yonder those biting rumbles Give fury sound. Hillary broken from revery Reawakened retribution's gusts and wraths. So brutal as did beaten brows Enforced by sharp, stern everlasting rattles, As God does speak, Hillary's righteous scorn At the last now spills on Melanie.
I started by changing around a few nouns and verbs, maintaining Shakespeare's general intent and meaning to explore for inspiration. I changed the subject from a battle of swords between kings to one of words between mothers, though that fell out. Realizing the imitation then opened up. I preserved somewhat the accentual verse but loosened the meter and foot to a free and blank verse. I still used hyperbaton, caesura, enjambment, poetry methods, metaphor, etc., from the original.
NB: A modest and problematic effort, yet suitable for illustration and template purposes. Note: since these are verse not prose, the thirteen lines are shorter than full-width lines.
In addition to being a voice imitation challenge and exercise, this is also a revision challenge and exercise. as well as a writing prompt for inspiration prospecting and development. I've seen a voice imitation exercise suggested for all the above in many writing workshops and writing texts.
One advantage of using a public domain work is that you can borrow from it in whole cloth: use the same subject matter, identical meaning, same characters, same settings, same events, same voice characteristics and only make minor or major changes as you desire. One example, maybe change the narrator voice to character voice. Or change narrator summary or explanation to character expression. Change passages that tell through lecture to ones that show in scene, or vice versa, or any whichaway changed around.
Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is ripe for updating into a contemporary language, as are H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's Monster or the Modern Prometheus. Several works each by Phillip K. Dick, Marrion Zimmer Bradley, Keith Laumer, and so on, are in the public domain and available at Project Gutenberg, as well as the above novels.
Owasm has led the vanguard with an artfully updated voice imitation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick classic opening. I have an entry from a favorite classic coming in a day or two. It's from the ending, though, rather than the beginning. Pick a part from anywhere in your selection. This is about voice imitations, not per se about craft aspects. So where your imitation begins and ends is of minor consequence.