A Sense of Style

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In the writing world, the word style means the way in which an idea is expressed. Style has to do with form, not content. Readers pick up a book because of content, but put it down because of style.

As a writer, you have to develop your own writing style. The way you arrange words is the nature of you. Your style should be specifically yours and no one else’s.

When developing your individual style, here are some things to consider:

  1. Listen to what you write. Writing is like music. The words you write make sounds, and when those sounds are in harmony, the writing works.
  2. Mimic spoken language. Writing conveys to the reader the sense of conversation. It should provide the intimacy and warmth of personal conversation.
  3. Vary sentence length. Consider the following:Image result for vary sentence length
  4. Vary sentence construction. You should always strive for clarity when you write, and arrange your sentences in a logical way. But you should also keep the primary elements of a sentence dancing. Expand beyond basic sentence structure and create music with your writing.
  5. Show, don’t tell. Don’t dictate to your readers what they are supposed to see, feel, and hear. Describe it to them and let them see, feel, and hear it for themselves.
  6. Keep related words together. Words that go together should be clustered together to avoid confusion. Adjectives should be placed near the nouns they describe. Adverbs should be close to verbs they modify.
  7. Create a steady beat. Be deliberate in the way you arrange words and sounds. Although consecutive sentences constructed the same way can bore the reader, repetition of sound can improve the music of your writing.
  8. Don’t force a personal style. Do not try to write like Hemingway or anyone else. Do not create in your mind some sort of witty or overly exciting persona and try to put it on paper. Style is the nature of you. It is specifically yours and makes you who you are as a writer. Image result for quotes about writing style

Worthwhile Writer’s Resources

There are a ton of writing resources out there. Some offer flim-flam, others offer sound advice. I’m going to direct you to some of the better resources I’ve encountered out there, in no particular order.

 

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By far, one of my favorite books on the writing craft is On Writing by Stephen King.

On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life. If you’ve always wondered what led Stephen to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.

emotion-thesaurus

I recently purchased The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, and it has been a godsend.

It has 75 emotion entries that list body language, thoughts, and visceral responses. It offers suggestions for each emotion ranging from mild intensity to severe. It’s easy to navigate through and helpful during the revising and editing process. Highly recommended.

master-list

Bryn Donovan has a fabulous blog with an entire section on Writing Resources. Look on the sidebar on the left for Top Posts & Pages.  She had a series of MASTER LIST posts that are extremely helpful for any writer. Her MASTER LIST series has also been compiled into a book. Definitely worth looking into.

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Nicholas Rossis’ Emotional Beats is similar to Bryn’s Master Lists and The Emotion Thesaurus. He adds a few more elements to his book, specifically focusing on beats. This book includes hundreds of examples to show anger, fear, indifference, and the whole range of emotions that characterize the human experience.

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The Kick-Ass Writer was not only informative, but highly entertaining to read. In this book, Chuck Wendig explains how to build suspense, craft characters, and defeat writer’s block. He explains how to write a scene, an ending, and even a sentence. He offers blogging techniques, social media skills, and crowdfunding ideas. Whether you’re just starting out or need a push to get over the top, Wendig offers advice that will destroy your fears, clear the path, and help you find your voice, your story, and your audience.

Bird by Bird

In Bird By BirdAnne Lamont teaches us as much about writing as she does about creativity at large.

“Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

Self Editing For Fiction Writers includes chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques that take you through the same processes an expert editor goes through to perfect a manuscript. It’s full of all kinds of information that will make your writing better.

If you’re like me and you write a lot, there is always going to come a time when you need to look up something about correct grammar usage. The Elements of Style has all the answers to those pesky grammar questions. A few of the addressed topics are how to use parentheses, possessive nouns, commas, colons, cases, hyphens, and participles. Strunk and White offer sound advice on voice, tense, tone, paragraphs, and connecting ideas. There are a bunch of homonyms, idioms, and homophones that give people trouble in writing. This little book gives you the proper usage and a few tricks to remember their use.

There are great writing resources out there, and I’ve read quite a few. Some I keep right by my side to refer to when I write. Whether you find any of these resources useful or not, each of us have areas where we can grow as writers, and these, as well as other resources, are available to help us improve our craft.

Happy writing.

Four Different Types of Writing Styles

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Staff Member: Amber M. Founder & Owner of: A Not So Jaded Life Millionaire’s Digest Staff Team, Author, Successful Living and Writing Writer A writer’s style is a reflection of his or her personality, unique voice, and way of approaching the audience and readers.However, every piece writers write is for a […]

via Four Different Types of Writing Styles (6 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest

Dare to Be Different

I’m one of those writers, as I’m sure many of us are, who is never satisfied with my work.  I could write the most glorious sentence or an epic scene in a book, yet no matter how many times I reread it, I will always find something wrong with it. It seems to be par for the course when it comes to the writing process, at least for me.  Maybe it’s just the perfectionist in me, or maybe it’s because I know other people are going to read my work and compare me to their favorite well-known author, and I don’t want to sound like an ignorant buffoon. Whatever the reason, editing is the one stage in the writing process that I detest.

Although proper grammar is important, I’m not one to judge the entire worth of a person or their creative genius because of a typo or a misplaced comma.  And if you really think about it, grammar rules seem to be changing all the time.  Not only that, different editors look for different things.  I can give my carefully edited manuscript to a completely different person to look over and they will detest the changes the previous editor made and find different elements that need to be revised.  It’s a double edged sword.

Having another set of eyes look over your work is important, as they will see things that you, the author, missed.  Your extra eyes will often come up with some great ideas you hadn’t thought of, but throw caution to the wind with this.  Too many eyes and too much input can take away from the very voice you’re trying to project.  I’m not saying don’t take advice from an editor, I’m simply saying to consider their input, but don’t lose your voice or who you are as a writer in the process.

People who offer critique often give input about how they would write that scene or how they would portray that character, and although their ideas may be wonderful, that might not be the direction you wanted the story to go. The next thing you know, your entire storyline has changed and the book you were once excited about, the one that really expressed who you are as a writer, now shows off someone else’s voice instead of yours. Remember whose story this is. If your name’s on it, it should be your voice the reader hears.

Even with an extra set of eyes and an editor’s input, there will still be people out there who won’t like your word choice. They’ll question your use of phrases, criticize your misplaced comma (even though you purposely put it there for dramatic effect), and some critical readers specifically look for grammar and spelling errors, as if their sole purpose in life is to crush every ounce of creativity within a writer’s already endless self-doubt. (Come on.  You’ve all see those Amazon reviews: “Although I loved the story, I found three spelling errors.”  A great book now has a one star review because a grammar Nazi is on the loose.)

As a writer, you get to the point where you’ve read through a document a hundred times, finding something else you want to change each time.  But after awhile, you need to just tell yourself that you’re done. It’s finished.  You’ve said what you wanted to say in the best way possible. Your voice has been heard.  You also get to the point where you realize that not everyone is going to like your writing style. Some will hate what you do and be supercritical, others will love the content and crave your unique voice.  It’s a matter of personal preference. There is no magic formula.

I don’t write for the masses.  I have no desire to replicate or sound like another author. I don’t seek fame or fortune from my writing, and I am not out to top the national best sellers list. I refuse to get caught up in the conventions of a specific genre, giving up my voice in the process.  I write what I want to write in my own unique way, using my voice, my characters, and my words.

The writing world is overstuffed with writers trying to replicate other writers. Seems like everyone wants to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. But I don’t want to be like the writers I love to read. In my opinion, it’s better to be different. It’s better to have a unique voice. Others may be able to write more fluently, use fancier words, or sound more poetic, but no one can write my story the way I can.

Dare to be different.