I come from a non-native English speaking country and, from my own analysis, I will say I have an intermediate level English fluency (IELTS score 7). Some of the articles on my blog were chosen by an international magazine (free of course). But now I am writing a novel.

The way we normally speak English is, of course, different from how it's spoken in native English countries. So the writing style for narration also is different. I have read a few novels from local authors and their (and my) style is really much different from the authors whose genre I aspire to write. For example, Elizabeth Gilbert, J.K Rowling, Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum.

I have read the books on writing style suggested by Stephen King, and other good books suggested online. My writing fits the description of the usual things but, still, the style based on spoken narrative is way different.

It's very difficult to invent my own style which can match their styles, but I am trying to imitate their writing styles. The stories are different; I just mean the style.

I think it's easier and will be acceptable to a large audience.

So my question is, what are the advantages and disadvantages of copying the styles of established authors?

  • Could you be more specific with what you mean by "writing style"? – Galastel Jan 24 at 16:33
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    @Galastel: Seems pretty self explanatory.... You know how the average painters copy/mimic the masters, or how the average composers do the same? Well you can do the same thing as a writer... And the advantage is, you can have produce something passably ok. The disadvantage is, you will never be a master.. – ashleylee Jan 24 at 16:44
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    I think taking inspiration from another established author is something every writer does whether that inspiration is from the story or the style. Unless you match them too closely I can't think of a disadvantage – BKlassen Jan 24 at 16:47

Style isn't something you can copy in this way.

Plot, character descriptions, turns of phrase, are all things you can copy enough to get in trouble for it (either legal trouble or trouble from your readers). Style is more of a way of doing things. Not a thing itself.

It would be saying, is it okay to copy how a singer you admire sings? And yes, it is. Because no matter how good of a mimic you are, you will never be that person. You could even work as an impersonator, and that would be perfectly legal in the right context.

Nor are writing styles specific enough to steal. One writer might use short terse sentences and another flowery prose. One might prefer a page filled with SAT words, another might use a newspaper style. Others might use uncommon styles like communicating in telegrams or writing in text speak.

So go right ahead. As long as you aren't copying ideas (or plot or characters or names), you are probably just fine. Your personal style will come through as you merge it with the ones that inspire you.

  • Thank you this was encouraging gave me a spring board. – White Cloud Jan 25 at 3:53

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