What’s Your Style?

Style refers to HOW the writer uses the basic elements of writing – grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. – as well as how he designs and conveys the story. One on-line definition says the point of good writing style is to keep the reader engaged. Sure, but that’s just good writing. Style should be unique.

Style is often linked with voice. The vocabulary, expressions, and sentence structure you use  most are all things that help your  reader identify your voice, and are part of your style. If you create the same voice in multiple books, you use the same devices, which become identified with your style.

But style goes deeper. Do you use a lot of dialogue or description? How about detail – do you show us every cobweb and dust-bunny in the room or just give it a quick once-over as your character enters? Do you write like you are carrying on a conversation or giving a lecture? Style includes whether or not you are plot-focused or character-focused. It can include the fact that you always choose the same type of setting, and it can even include genre.

We often recognize a writer by his or her style. John Grisham’s lawyers, who are involved in legal issues and courtrooms may be apt to use a curse word now and then, but (pardon me, Steven) they aren’t like anything in a Steven King novel. Michener always kicked off his books with a geography lesson. Steinbeck is the master of description and characterization, and Hemingway often is very straight and to-the-point in his writing.

Having your own style helps you develop a following. Readers, having liked one of your books, decide they want another, and another, all because they liked your style. You do that with your own favorite authors, don’t you?

You don’t have to be locked into a style. Many authors write different types of books, in different styles. The catch is to do it so that you don’t shake up your reader. You don’t want to have someone pick up one of your books because they like the first two and be disappointed because the style has changed. This is one reason that some authors write under different names. Each identity
writes in a different style. Thus it doesn’t upset the fans of each one.

Just a thought, for when you become famous.

Christine Henderson
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