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Monday
Jul112005

Tip III: Find Role Models

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest of flattery. But for those of us trying to become better writers, imitation is more than flattery; it's a powerful and time-honored way to master the craft.

I've learned some very important lessons by writing down turns-of-phrases by other writers whose work I admire. But don't just copy. Analyze. If a particular phrase or sentence is appealing to you, don't just enjoy the words. Ask yourself what it is you like about it. Break the sentence down and try to understand why those words managed to elicit a reaction from you.

In the end, you must use your own words to become the writer you want to be. But you can learn loads by initially copying and analyzing the style of other writers. Through this method, you gain an intimate understanding of the way good writers construct their sentences

“Do not fear imitation. Nobody sensible pursues an imitative style as a long-term goal, but all accomplished writers know that the notion of pure originality is a childish fantasy. Up to a point, imitation is the path to discovery and essential to growth.”
–Stephen Koch, Princeton and Columbia writing teacher

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