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. Read more
I was on a business call the other night speaking with a man who lived in Oregon when we added another woman to the call. As soon as this third party joined us, the man’s voice and manner changed. He went from sounding very normal and nondescript to suddenly sounding like a cross between Yogi Bear and a Scottish Highlander. I was totally freaked out.
He continued in this voice and manner for the entire call. Why? Did he secretly have a crush on the other woman and this was his way of sounding “debonair?” Was he terrified of her and used this new voice and manner to distance himself? I have no clue.
In the craft of writing, this Yogi Bear/Highlander persona could be called a character’s or narrator’s voice. Voice is one element of a writer’s style–that five letter word that many writers seem to have a hard time defining.
Style relates to how the writer puts words on the page—the arrangement of the words—but it’s also more than that.
In Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction,Jeff Vandermeer defines style as follows:
This slippery term more or less means the way the story is told; i.e. the patterns of words, phrases, and sentences through which the writer achieves certain effects….Style is the means by which the writer’s subject matter, passions, and interests reach their fullest expression on the page.
He explains that most writers fall somewhere between Ernest Hemingway (sparse) and Angela Carter (lush) and also between the painter Chagall (who always painted in the same style) and Picasso (who experimented and mastered many styles). Read more
I recently decided to take a break from writing scenes in my current manuscript until I get a better feeling for where my story is going.
While I continue to brainstorm scenes, there is one thing I’m working on—my style.
For a writer, style is how we put words together on the page. Style is syntax—the order of our words. Style is poetry—choosing just the right word. Style is the underlying foundation of everything we write. Style is being conscious of what words we choose, how we order our sentences and paragraphs and pages, and why. Read more
Writing style is all about the decisions you make to express yourself on the page. Style is a blend of many elements, including sentence length, rhythm, and vocabulary. It has to do with how you apply description, dialogue, and characterization. It’s a reflection of your individuality.
Consider these guidelines as you develop your unique style:
Don’t purposely try to mimic another writer. You can’t develop your own style if you’re trying to imitate someone else’s. Read other writers and observe their style as inspiration, but don’t copy them.
Let your writing flow. Don’t overthink style. Just go with the flow. Style is a mix of conscious and unconscious decisions. Write naturally, letting your unique personality and instincts guide you. Read more