25.9.11

The Case for Copying



I remember when I was in elementary school I used to write up "reports." In 6th grade we had a huge project to do on Mexico. My mom set up the card table so I would have enough room and I got down the big World Book Encyclopedia. I literally copied sections out of that book, using my best cursive. That's how we did it back then. No one said, take notes and then write it up in your own words. 


I would like to make a case for copying today. There is much to learn from good authors. I don't think the encyclopedia had all the best authors by any means, but copying good sentence structure and varied sentence structure with good vocabulary has a place in learning to write for yourself. It's not that easy to learn how to write well. 


There was a movie called Finding Forrester, where the aged professor has the young kid copy good literature as a start or prompt, and then go on with his own writing. This might be a good idea. Sometimes it is helpful to copy and learn what sounds good and what works. And then attempt your own writing. You can't copy forever, but it can teach you what sounds good.

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