For most of the last century, America’s cultural landscape—its fashion, art, music, design, entertainment—changed dramatically every 20 years or so. But these days, even as technological and scientific leaps have continued to revolutionize life, popular style has been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new. Like clothing fashion, books seem to have developed their own anticipated styles. I guess you could drop that 2012 guy’s pants below his shorts and put a hoodie and some sunglasses on him. (If you would call that current acceptable style.)
You often hear comments made about a writer’s style. Reviewers remark on disliking or liking an author’s style. I can read a book and say whether I liked the writing style, or not.
Writing style refers to the manner in which an author chooses to write to his or her audience. A style reveals both the writer’s personality and voice, but it also shows how she or he perceives the audience. The choice of a conceptual writing style molds the overall character of the work. This occurs through changes in syntactical structure, parsing prose, adding diction, and organizing figures of thought into usable frameworks.
A WRITER’S STYLE IS WHAT SETS HIS OR HER WRITING APART and makes it unique. Style is the way writing is dressed up (or down) to fit the specific context, purpose, or audience. Word choice, sentence fluency, and the writer’s voice — all contribute to the style of a piece of writing. How a writer chooses words and structures sentences to achieve a certain effect is also an element of style.
Style is not a matter of right and wrong but of what is appropriate for a particular setting and audience.
To read these descriptions of writing style, especially concerning personality and voice, one would think that style is almost innate. That it cannot change. But note what they say about choice.
For several weeks I was awash in stream of consciousness producing sentences of internal monologue, detailed description, and using associations to move from idea to idea.
Recently, I felt that my writing was getting serious and emotional. I needed a break from it.
I picked up my crime novel that I had placed on the back burner and read through it. That prompted a flurry of new ideas and I put down over 2000 words in one day.
The writing style is completely different from my historical story. Totally.
The sentences are shorter, there is humor, and things (especially clues) are plainly stated and described. It is rational and scientific; there is no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. There is no method to hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. I am having fun with it.
Having only written one book in recent years, I went back over some old manuscripts. The writing styles were clearly different.
My published book is a historical novel. There was much setting the time period, and description, character development and some internal dialog.
With all of the talk about building an author platform, I have seriously considered starting a new blog that focuses on crime novel writing or a specific image to that effect. Experts say that you need at least ten published books and preferably a series if you want to make your mark as a genre writer. What do you think?
I can’t say that I am a historical writer, fantasy writer, romance writer, crime fiction writer or any such thing as a defined writer of fiction. I am exploring.
Do you have a style? Could you deviate from it and feel comfortable or have you found your comfort zone? Is it innate talent for you, or do you feel it is a learned skill? Do you feel a genre specific platform is necessary?