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When using a persona do not overdo it

December 13, 2009

When using a persona do not overdo it


The problem with writing is that eventually it becomes like a finger print. People think that grammar is this strict set of rules where everything is certain and the rules cannot be broken. Try telling that to George Bernard Shaw with his peculiar ways of spelling common English words in Saint Joan. There is something that many people are often unaware of in their own writing and that is their personal style. That is the voice that echoes n their own head as they tap away at keyboard or scribble away on a pad. If writing was a strict set of rules with no flexibility then it would be as bland as a computer program and just as functional. The message would be transferred accurately but would be endlessly dull. Hence as people write they eventually develop a style based upon phrases that they normally use, the key words that attract them and the grammatical nuances that they think are important. It becomes so tied up with the human personality that they often become totally unaware they are doing this.


Try looking at any major writer of our time and you will be able to analyze their style and prose. Some people can read a paragraph from Orwell and recognize it as his style; others Dostoyevsky’s infused religious symbolism stands out and William Golding compact but suggestive imagery is definitely his own.


Here is the problem for people who harp on about who can and cannot write. The answer is that almost everyone can write well but few can disguise their own writing style beneath a new persona. The key phrases and favorite words tend to come through like the lines in a finger print. This is possibly a good lesson for those that are thinking of writing anonymous hate mail. Anonymous rarely means untraceable. False identities can often be unmasked as an orgy of evidence pours in.


One of the biggest mistakes people make when putting on a fake persona is that they over act the part. Like acting pretending in writing to be another person requires a fair amount of skill and rehearsal. Bad actors over play their character to the point that they become parodies of what they are trying to be. If they do not like the character they are playing then it can often reflect itself in the way they try to be too much like the version that they so despise. They exaggerate the feature that they find ugly to the point making the persona seem fake and unreal. If they want to play the persona of a French chef they over do the cliché and if they want to play the persona of a moralist they cannot help but play the self righteous version.


I do find it interesting that in an age where ‘self esteem’ and ‘being yourself’ are hammered so hard in schools that so many people enter the virtual world with a desire to be anyone but themselves. We have old men pretending to be young men and we have young women pretending to be young innocent girls. We have people who have multiple identities that they use to contact people with multiple identities. We also have those that play one persona until it has worn out its welcome merely to switch to another equally shallow persona. In it all the real person seems lost but what is never lost, is their true intentions toward other people.


People often forget that pretending to be something that you are not is hard work. It is even harder once they aware that their writing style advertizes they true identity like a giant bill board. They can play false character but changing the flow of words they have taken years to master is much harder. The poor acting gives evidence of a false persona and over doing the role gives evidence of a poorly constructed cliché. What points more directly are those little ways of expressing words in a way that makes a person’s writing their own.

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