Writing Through Imitation

The first book I ever loved was Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. It began as just another school assignment but it became a whirlwind romance. I’ve always remembered the paragraph in the novel that first made me feel the emotional power of writing.

“As he turned to go he heard the train. He stopped and waited for it. He could feel it under his feet. It came boring out of the east like some ribald satellite of the coming sun howling and bellowing in the distance and the long light of the headlamp running through the tangled mesquite brakes and creating out of the night the endless fenceline down the dead straight right of way and sucking it back again wire and post mile on mile into the darkness after where the boilersmoke disbanded slowly along the faint new horizon and the sound came lagging and he stood still holding his hat in his hands in the passing groundshudder watching it till it was gone. Then he turned and went back to the house.”

This passage still inspires me today. Yes, it contains a shameless run-on sentence, but it’s filled with layered images that transform a mundane event into something profound and beautiful. For this prompt, think of a piece of writing or poetry that is meaningful to you. It can even be your own. What makes that work different from the other things you’ve read? What is it about that particular piece of writing that provokes a response from you?

Imagine a simple, everyday scene and begin your piece in the style of your favorite work of literature and then just keep writing. If you get stuck, focus on a part of your chosen work that you particularly like and use it for inspiration.