Welcome to writing Wednesday everybody! Today I'm not prompting with you all because I'd like to talk about style in writing. I've been reading a lot lately, mostly due to waiting room visits and the snow keeping me inside. This is obviously a good thing but I've noticed a lot of the books I've been reading lack style and anything noteworthy. While it's great because I've been able to fall asleep fast, I'm craving a good book! And by good book I don't just mean story, I mean writing as well.
And then there's the other end of the spectrum...Authors who get too into the style that it's actually hard to read and get through. And you get authors who try to emulate others and it just miserably fails because let's be honest, it's not you!
When I wrote my first book (it's not published so you don't know what I'm talking about) I didn't have a style. How could I? It was my first real manuscript and I was still discovering how I wanted to write and what worked for me. But as I wrote more, I came into my own. Your style is your own and you have to find it through writing. It won't just come to you. You don't have to try to do it. You just do!
Important things you can do to find your style:
- Brush up on your grammar because this is huge. Do you like using commas and semicolons or are you more of a short sentence person. Of course, things change and evolve but this is important to your style. You have to be well-versed in grammar and right and wrong.
- Write as frequently as possible. Remember those writing prompts I try to get you all to do every week? DO THEM! The more you write, the more you'll see your writing improve and it will help you discover things you like and don't.
- Use a thesaurus. And I'm not saying go into your writing and change words you don't like, although I guess you could do that. But use it to learn new words and stronger words. Having a versatile vocabulary really, REALLY, REALLY helps your writing.
- KISS. All of you office fans will recognize this. I just had to use it. Keep It Simple, Stupid. (You're not stupid). This is big. Often times I see authors try to go in and make their writing super descriptive with long sentences and complex words, and it takes away from the story. The key to description is giving just enough so the reader can envision and let their imagination conjure it up.
- Dialog is a great time to show your style. I know I like to keep my dialog real and find myself speaking before writing to make sure it sounds right. That's just something I do. Others don't like dialog. Also watch those tags, sometimes leaving tags off is actually better.
- Ask around. You'll find that most people are very honest with you. If you ask, hey, does this work? They'll give it to you straight--hopefully! If you like repeat words to create style, do it, but I'll tell you right now, I hate that! But others may like so at the end of the day, the call is yours on your style.
- Lastly, watch those tenses. Make sure if you're writing, it's consistent. Don't jump around, it only gets the reader confused. I'll tell you write now, I love writing in present tense first person and it's the easiest for me to fall into. But some people do past tense, or third person. That's something I definitely suggest finding out early when writing.
At the end of the day, the style of your writing is what makes you stick out compared to others. People read your work and should be able to identify you without knowing the author. I found this really cool quiz that gives you a paragraph and you have to identify the author. Here's a try...
Anybody know who that is?? Ernest Hemingway,
"I lit the lamp beside the bed, turned off the gas, and opened the wide windows. The bed as far back from the windows, and I sat with the windows open and undressed by the bed. Outside a night train, running on the street-car tracks, went by carrying vegetables to the markets. They were noisy at night when you could not sleep. Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed. That was a typically French way to furnish a room. Practical, too, I suppose. Of all the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny. I put on my pajamas and got into bed."