My favorite authors right now are Jeff Shaara, Liz Vaccariello and Karen Abbott. They are all great storytellers that hook me right away and keep me engrossed in the plot all the way to the end of the book or article. While I'm not specifically studying their use of plot points, character relationships and development, dialogue and story structure, by reading their multiple works I'm absorbing their work; learning by being entertained. That, to me, is what makes them wonderful teachers. It's easy and fun to learn and grow.
Just as history is better absorbed when told in the form of stories, so, too, is learning how to be a professional writer. Bland lectures and tutorials, while very helpful, can be overwhelming and boring. Dealing with agents and editors can be downright scary. But sitting by myself, engrossed in a story that transports me to a different place while also teaching me something about the craft I've decided to pursue, is magic.
Oh, Happy Independence Day!