Prompt #7: Narrative Perspective and Voice
In about 200 words, narrate an important moment from the past: narrate it as if you are the age you were then, in the moment, and in present tense. Try to capture the diction and the rhythms of language of your younger self. 2) Then take another 200 words and reflect on the experience from the age you are now, using all the powers of language you possess to make sense of that experience. After trying this, what do you notice about the difference in voice between these two paragraphs? Imagine them sequentially–do they work together?
1) “I hate this job. And next summer, my internship with be 100x better than this. I’m making myself that promise right now,” I think, making barely audible mumbling at my tiny, dusty desk at Camp Shane. I type away, making blogs, social media posts, and chipping away at the take home manual.
I’m kind of sweaty, even though I haven’t moved much since breakfast. I can’t begin to imagine what the campers are going through right now. From Zumba class to soccer to dance to spin, I see them huffing and puffing across the dead grass each hour. Every once in a while, I get to follow them, snapping pictures for our Instagram page, but today I think I’ll just sit. Today, I’ll hide in the back room, sneaking sips of Diet Coke from me and my fellow interns’ two liter that we keep hidden in an old desk drawer.
“Why don’t you go grab the mail?” says Mary from across our small office space. She’s my boss, and a good one at that, so I head outside to the mailbox. The hill was outrageous to reach the top, and the box only yielded bills and a couple of fitness magazines.
2) I remember sitting at my tiny wooden desk, dust covering the phone, computer, and my chair. Each day I told myself that I’d never come back as an intern, never in a million years. I would spend my lunch breaks writing lists of all the companies that I would apply to for the following summer, while I sipped tiny cups of the Diet Coke that my fellow intern, Beini, and I had hidden away in an old cupboard in the IT room.
Working at at weight loss camp was painful. The temptations of the Dunkin’Donut drive-thru screamed my name whenever I ran an errand in town. But the Diet Coke was my vice. Anyways, it didn’t really feel right to eat donuts and drink sweet coffee, when all of the kids around me had, what seemed like, nothing but black beans and arugula.
The guilt of my secret snacks wasn’t too much though; daily, I huffed up and down a huge hill to get the mail for my boss, Mary. She would always suggest that I go grab it whenever I looked like my head was about to explode if one more angry, concerned, or overly-excited parent was on the other end of the phone.
3) The second part of this exercise was a lot easier for me. First off, I’m horrible with tenses. I can write narratives well, but not so much in the past tense. My voice, while somewhat the same, is a little more genuine in the second paragraph. I felt like I was trying too hard with all of the inner dialogue and whatnot in the first part.
This will be a huge challenge for me in this project, as I’ll be not only writing narratives in the past tense, but I’ll also be adopting the voice of those that I’m interviewing. I might have to try this exercise again, but using someone else’s story to push myself in the right direction of my project.