Aha! · Writers Write

Pip’s Excellent Adventure

I just finished reading Great Expectations. (Before, I’d read an abridged version from my ninth grade literature book.) At first, I bought the Cliffs’ Notes and the paperback, but I couldn’t get past page fifty. Then I discovered the large print edition from the public library. It’s a lot easier to read seven hundred and twenty-four pages of 16 pt. print vs. 8 pt.

I loved the book. Although I knew almost every twist of the story, Dickens makes the stakes for Pip, huge. Finding out about Magwitch was astounding, and losing Estella to Drummle, life shattering. I found myself re-reading passages, not for understanding, but because I wanted to feel the thrill of the words again. I understand why Dickens’ audience was mesmerized. Waiting for the next serialized installment must have been like my family waiting for the next Harry Potter.

Great Expectations plays a part in my book. Reading Dickens’ original gave me renewed focus. I discovered a few plot ideas, but more than that, I know how to raise the stakes emotionally for my heroine.

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