In Pursuit of Persona

Thursday, March 10, 2011
By Jill Earl

Struggling with the voice for that story you’re working on? Try swapping your persona with one other than yours to add interest in your writing.

What’s persona, you may ask? It’s defined as a character assumed by an author of a literary work, or the voice a narrator adopts to tell a story.

It was at a conference’s essay writing session where I became acquainted with persona. For part one of an exercise, we wrote about our first kiss. With pens scratching on pads, we raided our memories. When time was up, we groaned and giggled our way through our stories.

The instructor passed around a bag for part two of the exercise. The assignment: rewrite our piece in the persona each one of us selected for ourselves. Some of the choices were martyr, grouch, misanthrope, philosopher and pundit. Again, giggles and groans were heard as we attempted to ‘speak’ in these new voices, then figure out which persona was which.

I ended up with ‘martyr’ and did more spluttering than speaking in this voice. Since the class received copies of the ‘persona in a bag’ list, I’ll be using this literary device in my writing.

Think up some personas of your own to work with. How about know-it-all, grouch, tattletale, liar? The choices are as endless as your imagination. The more personas you use, the stronger your character development. And the stronger your writing.

Give it a try. Pursue that persona!


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