One of the best ways to become a writer is to thoroughly immerse yourself in the style of a writer you admire. Serious writing students have been known to copy out in longhand their favorite poems as well as selections from their favorite books and stories. Like walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, these copying experiences figuratively help you walk in someone else’s mind. You start to understand the ebb and flow of that writer’s style, right down to the use of commas and colons.
A related exercise is something I call “Faux Poe.” Edgar Allan Poe was known for his immense vocabulary, and as you try to imitate his style, you will start to see how his word choices help create characters that are a unique blend of the upper class, the willful and the mentally unstable. What’s that you say? You deny that Poe’s lexicographical opulence elevates his headstrong heroes to incomparable heights of unmitigated horror? Surely a person of your perspicacity understands that the revenge-crazed Montresor must wield his words as deftly as he wields his trowel. Surely you see that, should a shabby word encroach upon Prince Prospero’s magnificent crenellated castle, why that word would be just as unwelcome there as . . . the Red Death.
I urge you to deepen your acquaintance with the much vaunted verbiage of Edgar Allan Poe and to try your hand at it, too. You can make the acquaintance of Montresor by reading “The Cask of Amontillado” and Prince Prospero by reading "The Masque of the Red Death."
Have fun! (Or should I say, savor the piquancy of this most satisfying avocation.)
A scene from The Cask Of Amontillado. Willing Hearts Production Copyright 2006
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