Rouse Awards: Lucy Collier’s Austen-inspired short story

Lucy Collier (Upper Sixth) channelled the spirit of Jane Austen on her way to claiming the Rouse Artefact Award.

For her project, Lucy took on the task of writing a short story in the narrative vein of the early-19th Century novelist after delving into her classic novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility to pull out the key styles and themes used.

She said: “I love Jane Austen. There are common themes of marriage and love, but what I found interesting was the way she’ll cover a whole year in the books without it feeling like that’s the case.

“I analysed the books and looked at what other critics thought her main styles were as well, before thinking about what characters could embody these set ideas that I’d found and then write it.”

Lucy noted Austen regularly employed irony and free indirect discourse, where a character’s thoughts are conveyed through the narration, but also her “revolutionary” use of the narrator in other ways to create her unique form of writing.

Despite being a keen creative writer, for Lucy it was a departure from the poetry and “dark and Gothic” fairytale-like stories she had previously penned. However, she said her untitled 10,000-word work, featuring a panicky mother trying to marry off her daughters, had taken just a single weekend to compose.

“I’d already done a lot of research into novel writing as I’m hoping to study English literature at university, so I was already familiar with the structure and what to do, but essentially I just spent two whole days writing the story,” said Lucy.

“It was fun writing it and there’s a particular zone you hit when you’re writing. It took me about four hours to get started because you have to figure out the first line, but then it just flowed from there.

“I was honestly a little shocked when I heard I’d won the Rouse Award though, but I was very happy.”

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