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Rated: E · Article · Fantasy · #1133992
The Craft of Writing. Modeling after the ancients.
Learning From The Ancient Masters
Edward Ramey

Is It Possible to Learn How to Write By Studying the Ancient Masters?

I've always thought the bible, however controversial, to be a great work of literature. It has been stated that the bible is unsurpassed in the entire range of literature. Perhaps by studying this ancient mysterious book as literature, we could learn a thing or two.

As an example, I have included the following paraphrase from Ezekiel Chapter One. (Note the descriptive detail and rich metaphorical language.)

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God...I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings.
Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces.
Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.
Under their wings they had the hands of a man. Their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body.
Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it...and they sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

I'm not simply implying that you copy the scriptures word for word. But as an exercise, what you might do is take the scriptures, particularly the poetic portions, and try to emulate the technique. You just might be surprised at how it opens your eyes to powerful imagery and metaphorical language.

Actually, the bible has been used as a model in writing for many centuries. It has influenced the likes of Shakespeare, Edgar Alan Poe, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, J.D. Salinger, J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, just to name a few.

We new age writers (and I use "new age" loosely meaning writers of the new century) tend to read very little classic literature, if any at all, and I think it has resulted in a loss of metaphorical language skills. I'll be the first to admit that I like a fast-paced page-turner like most people do, but in my opinion we modern writers fail miserably in comparison to the writers of ancient times.

It is interesting to note that the bible is one of the oldest books in history, yet each year it still outsells every book in the world, including the New York Times #1 best-sellers. Now that, I think, speaks for itself.

© Copyright 2006 E. Ramey (eramey at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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