Dec 10, 2017

The Write-A-Story Calendar Day 10: A Matter of Style

Okay, so tomorrow we'll start writing, but first, a few words about style. You have a voice of your own of course, all writers do, but have you thought about the fact that you actually use several writing styles? At least for me, my style changes to accommodate the story I'm writing: prose poem stylings won't do for a sci-fi adventure, and plain but functional prose might be frowned upon in a literary piece. The story should of course still sound like you, but just the version of you that fits this particular story.

So, take a moment to think about your story. Is there something you need to take into account, style-wise? As we discussed yesterday, point of view is a part of this process as well, especially for a first person narrative when you're filtering the story through the mind of a character.

Genre also presents some restrictions. You don't want your Gothic romance to sound too modern or your cutting edge cyberpunk tale to sound twee, and having your teenage protagonist sound like a sixty-year-old curmudgeon probably won't work too well. And who is your target reader? Will he be able to handle all those big words you're throwing his way?

This is also a good time to take note of any personal stumbling stones that tend to crop up in any story you write. Do you use too much passive voice? Do you have a tendency to keep the reader at an arm's length with unnecessary sense words (we'll talk about this more when we discuss writing deep point of view)? Are you sensitive to flow, or does your prose get clunky or overly complicated if you're not paying attention? Do you easily slip into clichés instead of coming up with your own metaphors? Are you overly fond of the word "obsidian"? (Yep, most of these are or have been mine at some point.) You can fix all this when editing, but it can save you a bit of work if you keep it in mind while writing and try to avoid going there in the first place.

You're writing the story first and foremost for you, for your own pleasure, but if somebody else reads it, you don't want your style to mess with the reading experience but rather to enhance it. (Unless you're James Joyce. I'm pretty sure he took a perverse pleasure in messing with people's heads.)

So, show us your style!

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