Because of the success from the “write every day” experiment/challenge, I decided that it’s time to broaden my writing horizons and explore other advice given by prolific and extraordinarily successful writers.
After some exploration of the various tidbits of wisdom and often repeated writing advice, I decided to use the advice that I’ve been given from non-fiction writers, copywriters, as well as fiction writers. What’s the advice? It is this, and I’m paraphrasing here, you find an author that you admire and copy their writing word for word by hand. You actually grab a pencil and begin copying the words from a book your author has published into your own handwriting on a piece of paper.
Why do this? It sounds painful and pointless, right?
Well the theory is that by writing or copying your chosen author’s material word for word you begin to learn to write like them. You learn their voice and style. You get a hang of the rhythm. You learn how to write dialogue, description, and discover how pacing and plotting work.
Elmore Leonard did this with Hemingway. He copied many of the great writer’s works. When he began to write his own material he aspired to write like Ernest Hemingway but learned a few things, (and this is where the advice becomes something to put into your own practice).
He learned that your own style and voice come through as you create your stories. Yes, you’ll learn how to write like a great writer but along the way you’ll add your own flavor to the style and you’ll make it uniquely yours.
For example, Leonard realized that Hemingway never wrote anything funny – not a single thing. If you’ve read Elmore Leonard then you know he has quite a sense of humor and his characters are often quirky. He added his personality to a writing style that he learned from copying one of the best writers ever.
Who Would You Choose to Emulate?
I have many favorite writers. I devour every single Ilona Andrews book she’s ever written. There’s something about her world building that I just find amazing. I also adore Elmore Leonard’s writing style and consider him to be one of the best writers ever. Stephen King is a fantastic story teller. So who do I choose to copy?
Who would you choose?
I’m taking a two pronged approach here. I’m going to write from one of my favorite Elmore Leonard books ever, Out of Sight. It’s actually a romance (though I’m sure he didn’t think of it that way) so I think it’s a good book to focus on.
I also need to learn how to write better sex scenes. It’s not that I don’t have a dirty mind and a creative imagination but my saucier scenes always feel forced and stilted to me so I tend to avoid them but I sure do love to read them. I’m going to choose a few good spicy scenes and authors to copy.
I’m thinking Linda Howard and Mr Perfect in particular. I loved that book and there are some well written sexy scenes. So that’s my start. I’m copying, word for word Out of Sight and a few chosen scenes from Mr Perfect. I’m thinking that I’ll probably copy a few pages every day.
If you choose to try this experiment, who would you choose and how would you approach it?