Improve your writing by modeling favorite authors

Looking for a way to hone your writing skills? Try drawing inspiration from your favorite authors’ writing.

To some degree, you’re probably already doing this. Our perception of what makes good writing often is based on who we consider to be a good writer. If you idolize Hemingway, you’ll probably think good writing means short, almost staccato sentences.

There’s certainly value in reading and consciously drawing inspiration from the authors you like. After all, they’re probably among the best in their genre, so they must be doing something right (pun intended). For beginning writers, modeling the stories of a favorite author forces them to think about how a story is structured and the characters developed, making writing of their own stories easier later on.

Having said this, you don’t want to imitate a loved author’s style. Instead, respond to his style, to his content. By copying someone else’s style and voice, you deny your own. You physically and mentally aren’t Arthur C. Clarke, so at best you only can create a facsimile of his approach to storytelling. The story will ring as false to the reader.

By responding to a favorite author’s style and content, however, you acknowledge his influence while remaining true to your own voice. As you are presenting the story from your world view, you’ve peeled away a level of artificiality (the using of another writer’s voice to tell your story). You then become part of an ongoing commentary of all that ever has been written on that topic. 

If you really want to learn from your favorite author how writing works, read his inspirations. You’ll be surprised how his best stories don’t copy those inspirations but instead was spurred by them to great creativity.