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The Exercise Of Emulation

A writing exercise that is helpful in learning a very specific style of writing is called Emulation. This is done to match the style of a specific author. In essence, you create an entirely new passage using an existing passage as your guide. For example if you wanted to try to write in the same manner as the Psalmist you might copy a passage of Scripture… Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. This would be an emulation example… Lift your voice to the Lord, everyone. Sing to the Lord with triumph; come to His throne with humility.

There is none like our God. It is He who sustains us, and He knows us; we follow Him as the least in His Kingdom. Gratitude arrives before us as we proclaim His greatness; show honor by singing praise because the Lord is awesome and His love does not diminish, He will be faithful to your grandchildren’s grandchildren. (Modeled after the Psalmist in Psalm 100). While this may not be a perfect example, the idea remains intact; stay as close to the form and function of the passage you are emulating as possible so anyone familiar with the work will quickly recognize the similarities. This is an exercise that is easy in concept, but somewhat difficult in execution. In a perfect emulation you would replace every word with another word. In a perfect emulation a noun is replaced with a noun and an adjective with an adjective and so on. Emulation teaches you to creatively rewrite and reexamine the mechanics of what was written. In my emulation sample, I used a thought for thought emulation style, not word for word.

Emulation doesn’t need to be about the same topic either; it simply needs to match up with the literary style of the original author. If you are a looking for a writing exercise that is a challenge and remains a great learning tool, consider the use of emulation as a means of discovering more about the structure the author used and, secondarily, how you respond to that structure today.


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