Books I have read and people have said that imitation of a great author is a good way to learn writing style. Well, what I want to know is whether I can actually internalize a writing style by direct imitation, so that later, when not looking at the model, I can write in the same style using different sentence structures.

Does my brain actually learn to write in the rhythm of the prose I imitate, or will it just fall out of my brain like water through a strainer?

I know it's not good to write in someone else's style but I am trying to do two things: to write in their style because it's fun, and to form a new one derived from different styles I have imitated.

3 Answers 3


Writing is fluid and dynamic. And, like most characters, you are a sum of your experiences. This means if you keep writing in a specific style and concentrate on maintaining that, your natural tendencies will start to shift in that direction.

It won't be instant and it won't be obvious because your perceptions change along with the process, but if you keep at it, you'll find it coming more naturally and without thinking about it.

I know that over the years, there are certain authors who had quirks in their writing that I liked but other aspects I didn't. Those quirks have followed me through my writing and became part of my natural style but the ones I didn't care for haven't been integrated.


I can't know if your brain works like this, but when I get immersed in the work of a writer with a particular style, I find myself falling into their rhythms whether I want to or not (I even ended up composing a parody once, after binge-reading a large quantity of a distinctive author's work).

I'm also a musician, and I learned under the Suzuki method, which prioritizes imitation, and learning by ear, so maybe that's a factor for me. However, learning by imitation and "osmosis" is the first and the most foundational way we all learned language, so while that may be harder to access as an adult, I doubt it's completely out of reach for anyone.


A few things:

  1. If you are planning to ape/homage an author's specific style, make sure that you're doing so for more than just because it's fun. Why do you want to ape/homage their style? Are you commenting on or pushing forward that style by doing so? Nothing is more annoying than seeing/reading a work and being like, "this reminds me of X. I think I'll just read X instead" or when asking the author why their style is so similar to another's and them responding with, "because it's fun.".
  2. Yes, if you read, for example, Kurt Vonahgut and Arthur C. Clark long enough, you're style will eventually imitate theirs; however, you should not rely solely on that. Make your style your own.
  3. The best way to imitate your influences' styles without ripping them off is to understand and study them (which sort of leads back to 1).
  4. You'll internalize your influences' styles by merely consuming their work (you don't need to study their style to have it woven into yours as an influence)
  • What's wrong with writing something for fun? garbus didn't say anything about trying to publish anything written in someone else's style. They also said they are trying to form a style of their own. Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 22:43

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