Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Do you have a Writing Style?

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Every writer has a distinctive manner when it comes to putting words together. The sentence length and structure as well as the writer’s cultural background and worldview will set their writing apart from that of others. This is your “voice.” Voice is a reflection of your thinking and speaking habits, and the way you put them down on paper.

Good writing style:

Of course, style is very important in every genre. You can’t communicate effectively without it, and it will be hard to sell any books without good communication. As with everything in writing, style is a subjective thing. In other words, you will never please everyone, but you need to be concise and clear in what you want to say.

Good style can be a reflection of your personality, whether it is chatty or serious. You might write short staccato sentences, or long complex ones. You may find yourself writing in a completely different personality than the way you talk when you sit down at your computer to write.

Writers who write for magazines and newspapers use a different style than the ones who write novels. Magazine and newspaper articles require you to be to the point with only the facts. The writer can be more flowery and detailed when writing a novel or other longer piece of work.

If you want to look at some examples of excellent writing style, you may wish to read some works by some of history’s best writers, such as Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and Jonathan swift. Each of these writers has a different style, but it will give you a good idea of the descriptive language each of them uses in their stories.

Developing your own style:

You can achieve this by reading and writing a lot. Now, how many times have we all heard that? We know this is true because we are exposing ourselves to different styles while reading widely, and practicing what we have learned by writing. To develop your style, you have to be self-critical, which can be hard to do.

As writers, we need to check our flow, tone, and rhythm. To check flow, read your work aloud and listen to what you’re hearing. Are you repeating yourself? Have you varied your sentences in length and structure? Do they flow nicely? Do you use the same word too many times to start a sentence? This is all tricky, as I’m finding out while working on my new novel. If anything needs fixing, go ahead and change it.

The tone is how the writer expresses his/her attitude regarding the subject. Tone can be angry, bitter, arrogant, sarcastic, informal, or cynical, but it needs to be appropriate for the audience and the purpose of the story. You could ask yourself some basic questions. Why am I writing this? Who is my audience? What do I want the reader to take away from the story? You may need to adjust your tone to communicate the appropriate message.

Rhythm in writing is similar to a symphony orchestra. Everything needs to be coordinated and flowing in perfect harmony, not just blaring noises that don’t mesh. This is why it’s good to mix up your sentence structure, long with short. As you go through, you can add a bit of decoration to your work to spice it up, such as pertinent questions, or small details that enhance the reader’s enjoyment.

You may have to write and rewrite many times to achieve the perfect balance of everything, throwing some of your perfect “babies” out as you go, until you finally have the right mix. Striking out “perfectly good sentences” can be a challenge. It is hard for me to do, so hard in fact that I pasted them all into a separate Word doc. This made me feel better about cutting them out. In my head, I was putting them somewhere and not just banishing them to “no-man’s-land.” I find this a way to be brutal while still keeping my “babies” safe. You may want to do that until you’re ready to delete that file of throwaway sentences.

To sum it up:

Style is an individual thing. Practice makes perfect. Write until you have confidence in your own voice and make it stand out from the crowd. Them keep learning and practicing consistently. Remember your meaning should always be clear to your readers. Your story must flow all the way through. Small speed bumps along the way to increase intrigue should be okay, but please no honking horns and blaring music that will make the reader wish they had earplugs.

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