TTTC: Write-Like Tim O’Brien

In “How to Read Like a Writer,” Mike Bunn points out that when you read like a writer, “you examine the things you read, looking at the writerly techniques in the text in order to decide if you might want to adopt similar (or the same) techniques in your writing” (72).

Let’s look at Tim O’Brien’s story, “The Things They Carried,” as inspiration for our own writing. To that end, think about the techniques O’Brien uses in that particular short story to convey the various things that the soldiers carry. Also keep in mind the diverse types of things the soldiers carry: individual/group, objective/subjective, concrete/abstract, mundane/extraordinary.

Using “The Things They Carried” as your model, write-like Tim O’Brien. In a “write-alike,” you will borrow O’Brien’s diction (though not his specific words) and syntax. Try to mimic O’Brien’s style. However, instead of writing about what soldiers carry, you will write about a subject a little closer to your own experience―being a student.

Write-like O’Brien for about 250-300ish words. Use the “backpack” activity from class to help you compose your piece.

ALTERNATIVE: As I mentioned in class,  if you would like to “play” with this assignment a bit more and use a different group of people (for example, artists) and a different verb than carry (for example, draw), feel free to take the weekend to work on this exercise.


TYPED, DOUBLE-SPACED, MLA HDG. DUE FRI., 11/20.


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