Writing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

Copying the masters… word for word


Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most famous of human painters, began as an apprentice mimicking his master’s strokes.  Long ago, painters just starting out often worked under master painters for a time.  Why, masters even permitted their apprentices to fill in sections of their paintings, as a way to learn techniques!

In a museum, elves have seen humans set up with easels, painstakingly copying a piece of artwork as closely as they can.  And, we have been told, if you go to art school, you have to study at least one famous work and copy the work yourself!   (Note:  Scoble, the illustrator elf, learned to draw by copying his favorite comics every Saturday morning from The Daily Elven.)

Maybe you are wondering why this is a Writing tip and not a Drawing tip.  Here is why.  In the elven world, we copy the writing of great elven writers.  As we copy out words exactly as they were written in a famous story, we get a firsthand feel for how the elf arranged and chose the words.  We feel how long the sentences are, how the elf built up paragraphs, description and other elements and rhythms in the story.  The elf elders require us to practice in this way because copying is a brilliant way to observe tiny details about how something was made.

New idea:  Take a book that you like, sit down and copy out a paragraph or two or three, or a page, or two or three!  Appreciate the work of the author, word by word, comma by comma!  If you copy a page exactly, you will miraculously see the story more through the eyes of its creator.

We cannot turn in copied work for homework.  We all know this.  But we can freely use stories to learn the strokes of the masters.

Lastly, we can always be on the lookout for ideas that might help us as a storyteller.  An idea that comes from painters might well help a writer, too!

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The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories