A big part of writing comes from personal experience. Life experiences give you something to write about. Learning how to write, however, can be harder to do.
We all learn the basic fundamentals of writing in school. There are many books that teach the craft of writing. And these are excellent resources, but they will take you only so far.
The best way to learn something is to do it yourself.
And a good starting point can be following the example of someone else.
I watch my baby boy copy me all the time. Every day he learns from me and my husband. We all have role models that we look up to. People we turn to when we want to know how to do something. Someone we trust to show us the right way or best way to do a certain task.
Copying the masters is not about stealing or plagiarizing. We copy fashion trends and hairstyles from celebrities and friends all the time. We find something that works and we like it, so we make it our own.
Improve Your Writing by Copying the Masters
Pay Attention to What You Can Learn
The first step to copying the masters is to find something to copy. If you are struggling with something in particular, that can be a good place to start. Maybe you want to work on starting or ending flashbacks. Or your character development is lacking (It’s okay, I know mine is). Or maybe you don’t know how to progress time.
These are all things you can find examples of and then try to do yourself.
Another option is to think of your favorite book or passage of writing. Or next time you read a book that speaks to you, pick a passage from that. Why do you like it so much? What is working in the scene? Is it word choice, sentence length, imagery, etc.?
Once you have found a good sample of writing that deals with something you are struggling with or simply a sample that you really enjoyed reading, you are ready to start copying the masters.
Try to Create Something Similar
Once you have found something that you want to emulate, give it a go. Try to create something of your own that is similar. If you like the sentence length, write sentences of a similar length. If you like the way a flashback is triggered by a smell, write a scene where the smell of something carries your character into a reverie. Whatever it is about the scene, try to copy it in your own writing.
Since this is just for practice you can follow your sample as closely or loosely as you want. The more you practice, the easier it will be to make the writing more and more your own.
By copying the masters you can learn new skills and improve your writing.
How will you copy the masters to improve your writing? Who will you copy?