Literally copying other writers

Though we are looking at aspects of a writer’s style that may be worth emulating, sometimes we have to just literally copy other writers in order to get a better understanding of the different ways to arrange words on a page.

The Write Practice gives us an interesting perspective on this, by suggesting that going out and copying, word for word, a page or two of our favorite writer will help us to write better and further develop our own personal styles.

If you imitate long enough, eventually, you’ll find your own voice. It will be some crazy combination of everyone you’ve imitated plus something that is wholly you.

So go out there and steal something. If you do it enough, the world will be better for it.

Though I don’t think many of us will go out and actually copy pages of other writers, it’s still some food for thought that may help give some of us better writing styles.

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4 thoughts on “Literally copying other writers

  1. Jasmine Ly April 23, 2015 / 4:57 am

    I think imitating other writers is a great strategy to help you develop your own voice. Even being exposed to different types of writing through reading helps out a lot. Learning how other writers structure a strange sentence or handle a tricky subject is absolutely inspiring. If you go out and merely copy a single writer, you’re probably in for some trouble with plagiarism, but taking as much in as you can and blending it into something entirely your own isn’t plagiarism, it’s creation.

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  2. courtneycalderon April 23, 2015 / 3:01 pm

    This is a really cool writing exercise! Of course, I agree with Jasmine that actually publishing pages of our favorite authors’ writing as our own would get sticky with plagiarism, using it as a tool to better our own writing is really clever. It makes sense that when we read pages and pages of one writer’s words, we start to adopt their style in our own writing, similar to when we pick up our friends’ and families’ mannerisms after spending time with them. What we don’t often think about is if we actually typed or wrote the words our favorite writers wrote, it would make even more sense for us to start picking up their writing style. I may have to try this soon!

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  3. stephaniebaur April 23, 2015 / 11:26 pm

    I am definitely going to try this. It makes sense to me. In sports, we are told to watch the greats and copy them exactly. Pick the best shooter in the NBA, and then do as they do, over and over again. I wonder which writers I will choose to copy. Probably a mixture of Hemingway, Dr. Seuss, Daniel Handler, and Shakespeare…which will make for quite and interesting style.

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  4. sdomingu1117 April 26, 2015 / 2:11 am

    This was a fascinating read to me. I think many writers online have already used this style and along with that has come ‘fanfiction writing’. While, I haven’t crossed that side of the internet, I know it exists. I think one of the most notorious sample of this writing and how imitation can lead to creation is 50 Shades of Grey. If I remember correctly, E L James wrote fanfiction about Twilight online and it become such a hit that she decided to publish it, and it became a success. While, I’m not a huge fan of either series, I can appreciate how she made her own ‘imitated writing’ into her own writing and with her own fan base.

    I do think this is an excellent writing exercise and think I’ll start doing it myself when I have more time. Thank you for an excellent blog post.

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