Write Like the Masters - Writer's Digest

Write Like the Masters

Improve your writing by learning techniques from history's greatest writers.
Publish date:

Write Like the Masters
By William Cane
Writer’s Digest Books, 2009
ISBN 978-1-58297-592-4
$19.99, hardcover, 288 pages

Buy Now

Digital Download also available

Read an Excerpt
Learn to keep your sentences lean like Hemingway with this excerpt from Chapter 12 of Write Like the Masters.

Read a Q&A with the author

William Cane discusses his book, the art of rhetorical imitation and the writing that inspires him.

Image placeholder title

About the Book
Time and time again you’ve been told to find your own unique writing style, as if it were as simple as pulling it out of thin air. But finding your voice isn’t easy, so where better to look than to the greatest writers of our time?

Write Like the Masters analyzes the writing styles of twenty-one great novelists including Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Edith Wharton, Flannery O’Connor, and Ray Bradbury. This fascinating and insightful guide shows you how to imitate the masters of literature and, in the process, learn advanced writing secrets to fire up your own work.

You’ll discover:

• Herman Melville’s secrets for creating memorable characters
• How to master point of view with techniques from Fyodor Dostoevsky
• Ways pick up the pace by keeping your sentences lean like Ernest Hemingway
• The importance of sensual details from James Bond creator Ian Fleming
• How to add suspense to your story by following the lead of the master of horror, Stephen King

Whether you’re working on a unique voice for your next novel or you’re a composition student toying with different styles, this guide will help you gain insight into the work of the masters through the rhetorical technique of imitation. Filled with practical, easy-to-apply advice, Write Like the Masters is your key to understanding and using the proven techniques of history’s greatest authors.

About the Author
William Cane has had a distinguished career as a professor of English at CUNY and Boston College, where he helped a generation of students improve their prose by imitating great writers. Cane is the author of six books, including the international bestseller The Art of Kissing. A highly sought-after speaker on the college lecture circuit, he has appeared on almost every major television talk show, including Today, The View, and CBS This Morning. He lives in Jersey City with his wife and daughter.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Write Like Honoré de Balzac
Chapter 2: Write Like Charles Dickens
Chapter 3: Write Like Herman Melville
Chapter 4: Write Like Fyodor Dostoevsky
Chapter 5: Write Like Knut Hamsun
Chapter 6: Write Like Edith Wharton
Chapter 7: Write Like W. Somerset Maugham
Chapter 8: Write Like Edgar Rice Burroughs
Chapter 9: Write Like Franz Kafka
Chapter 10: Write Like D.H. Lawrence
Chapter 11: Write Like William Faulkner
Chapter 12: Write Like Ernest Hemingway
Chapter 13: Write Like Margaret Mitchell
Chapter 14: Write Like George Orwell
Chapter 15: Write Like Ian Fleming
Chapter 16: Write Like J.D. Salinger
Chapter 17: Write Like Ray Bradbury
Chapter 18: Write Like Flannery O’Connor
Chapter 19: Write Like Philip K. Dick
Chapter 20: Write Like Tom Wolfe
Chapter 21: Write Like Stephen King

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.


Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.