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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Finding Your Own Writing Style

There simply is no absolute when it comes to style in writing or anything in this world for that matter. Style is a matter of taste and any definition of style leaves much room for infinite variations. No one is qualified to say that one certain thing, and only that thing is the correct way to express something. The style of some writers is blunt, staccato, and very formal, while the style of other writers may be brisk and full of caprice. Yet there are still others that right with flow and simple grace.

Most writers vary their style, using some or all of the foregoing effects to suit their material, although usually one style - individualities of expression, cadences, will predominate. In other words, your style of writing is your WAY of writing. It forms slowly over the years, colored by your own maturing and be the unconscious absorbing of words, meters, phrases, and expressions - both written and oral. However, when you consciously take note of your own style of writing and that of other authors you can improve the style of your writing. That being said, let's take a look at some specific suggestions for improving style.

* Don't ever be afraid to be original! The truly creative writer, no matter what the genre, cannot bear to be just like anyone else. This does not mean that you should strain to be cute or shocking or freakish. This simply means that you should not settle for the mundane. Scan every page of every manuscript asking yourself; How can I say this in a better way? Where can I add something to really make this page shine? Are there any errors that need to be corrected?

* Some of you may ask, "But how do I achieve this originality you speak of?" Like style itself, originality is a matter of talent and instinct; unless you have a bit of it within yourself, it cannot really be taught. But there are ways to improve the gifts you already have. Create fresh figures of speech. Do more with alliteration. You can even invent new words. The more you write, the more ways you will discover to put the touch of individuality into your writing.

* Avoid rare, difficult words, but don't throw out your trusty thesaurus just yet! What I mean by this is that the deliberate use of long, mouth-filling words calculated inserted to impress your reader is more likely to irritate them instead. Of course you want to entertain and perhaps educate your reader, but you don't want to leave them frustrated by having to pick up their dictionary every few moments to look up a word in your tale.

On the other hand, there is simply no excuse for being word poor or redundant. The truly creative writer is a hound for words, constantly seeking out more words to add to their collection. When reading back through what you've written, search out redundant usage of certain words and trim down on the smaller words like 'it', 'he', 'a', and 'the' that aren't really neccesary in many instances.

* Discover alliteration or re-discover it! Alliteration adds flow and loveliness to style. It makes your writing shine and smooths the rough edges. Just be sure not to overdo the alliteration you use in your writing or you're canned.

Alliteration is a combination of words that may or may not begin with the same letter, but whose sounds echo each other, sometimes in the body of the word. To be truly pleasing, good alliteration joins with rhythm. If you find yourself stared in the face by a bulky sentence, use alliteration to smooth it out. Alliteration can also be used in titles.

You can develop certain aspects of your style more quickly and effectively if you will intentionally expose yourself to the kind of things you want to write. If you're going to write adventure, steep yourself in tales and movies of adventure of all kinds. Reading before you sit down to write is particularly helpful because you are putting your unconscious mind to work absorbing mood, pacing, and tone. Train yourself to be aware of the various styles other good writers use.

No matter your preference on style or your taste in writing forms, never forget the most important thing of all; being true to yourself as a writer. This, above all else, is the best thing you can do for yourself. Of course not everyone is going to like what you write, you probably won't like everything you write either...but give it your own personal voice and make your characters shine. There is no shame in that. It's something to be fantastically proud of.

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