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Style is more than the arrangement of words on a page, part 2

In my previous post on the subject of style, I mentioned how style is not achieved by merely the order of words on the page but through all aspects of writing as they coalesce into a whole.

Another way of looking at style is through the words of author Lowell Cauffiel who says, “Style is not how a writer puts words together but what he perceives and how he thinks.” He says beginning writers often think of style as how words are put together—i.e. they think, “Should I write sparsely like Hemingway or use more words like Faulkner?”

Cauffiel says style is not about word techniques but how you perceive the world around you and how you relay that information.

If we want to develop a unique voice and style, our number one job as writers is to engage our perception by slowing down and observing our surroundings.

If you’re observing clouds, for instance, how would you describe them? Are they cumulus clouds or stratus clouds? What color are they? How are they moving? What importance do they have in your story? Every little component you choose to relay about these clouds is your style.

Cauffiel says your style begins to develop when you start finding words of precision instead of generalizations. Slowing down and observing reality is what will really make your style begin to flourish.

He also says the way to develop your style is to open up your perceptions about reality and then be conscious of how you write about that reality.

For more ideas on how to improve your style, check out a few of our previous posts by Carly:

Improve your power of observation: Write a poem a day

Write inspired: seven ways to use your powers of observation

Find good story material by being an observer

If you want to hear more writing lessons from Cauffiel and other writing mentors, check out For $19.95 a month, or less for a yearly subscription, you can have some of the best writing advice at your fingertips.

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