Developing Your Writing Style

English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I compare a writer’s style to her/his fingerprint, a unique signature style that develops over time. If you have a favorite author, then you probably know that author’s style; it permeates the work of the author as a scent picked up by the reader. The author has embedded in the story not only his soul but also his creativity, and in a way that reflects a distinctive writing personality, the writer’s style. Even when the work has gone through several rounds of editing and re-writing, the author’s style remains, embracing the story.

I think that every writer sets out to tell a story, maybe influenced by his/her favorite author, genre, but in time that writer finds his own voice and style. It shines through inevitably, and the writer chooses to develop it or ignore it. In the latest, the writer would be forcing someone else’s style into his work, preventing the free flow of the story, and his growth as a writer. No one can be the next Stephen King or Dan Brown, for example. You might admire their styles, and decide that you want to write in their specific genres, but eventually, you will need to embrace your own style. How do you develop your writing style? How do you facilitate the process?

I think that there are four ways to do this, and all four relate to one another and take time. To develop a writing style you will have to:

  1. Read – Read as much as you can, and in every genre. Read the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more you read, the more you learn the do’s and don’ts, but also you train your brain to pick up on many other things between the lines. Research falls into the read category, so research what you must. It is not possible to become an author if you do not like to read. It is like trying to make a cat lay eggs (imagine that disaster).
  2. Write – It may seem so simple, but to develop your writing style you will have to do tons/miles of writing. It is that hard and that simple. The more you write, the more you attune your brain (and soul) into developing your unique voice. Compare it to cooking or riding a bike for the first time, and the difference that practice makes.
  3. Listen – Listen to the flow of the story but also to your characters. Many times, characters know best. Sometimes, forcing the story will end up confusing/erasing your characters. Imagine going into another dimension while trying to stay in the present at the same time; there is conflict, and eventually, something is got to give. Listen to your characters and compromise. For example, when I set to write my first novel (Moonlit Valley), one of the main characters was imagined as being a bit nerdy, second to the female character, and a complete opposite to the character that emerged when I began to write. This character fought me from the start, to the point that I was forcing my writing. In the end, I let him be and Jeremy Sandbeck emerged. After that, it was easy to write him.
  4. Trust your instinct/go with your gut – In other words, listen to your Healthy Inner Voice. This is the voice that looks after you and cheers you up – the one that “feels just right.” At the same time beware of the Inner Critic – that is the archenemy of your Healthy Inner Voice, and it doesn’t feel good; it puts you down. Learn to discern them; balance the first, and ignore the second.

I honestly think that this is the best way to develop your writing style, and it is a writer’s journey.

Writer’s Wisdom 50

 Tracing your path to success

What is a successful writer?  How do your define your own success as a writer?  Do you have to compare yourself to other writers?  Do you measure your success against Best-selling authors?  These questions will make you ponder about what you truly think of yourself as a writer.  Sometimes, it is a subject that we avoid, and a mirror that we cover because we don’t want to see our own reflection.

The measure of success is different for everyone.  It could be as simple as going throughout the day and being able to write a chapter or a few pages of that novel that you have inside – you did it!  Or it could be the first contract that you land as a freelance writer – your first paid project.  Or maybe, your book is getting published!

Whatever it is for you, success doesn’t happen without effort.  Best selling author Dan Brown sits to write in his office at 4:00 am.  In an interview with Borders, he said that he sits down to write “the best book he can possibly write, whether it is for one reader or millions.”  That is the attitude with which we should approach our writing. 

Mapping our success as writers, should include more than projects, and future goals, it should include the now, the approach and effort that we put every day.  Is the material that we put out there in writing sites for everyone to see, free of errors (to the best of our ability)?  Have I revealed too much from my private life and affairs?  Will it hurt me in the future or will it help my writing?  Every step that you take as a writer, will either help or hinder your future development. 

So, let’s approach our craft with a similar attitude to how Dan Brown approaches his writing – repeat with me:  “whether it is for one reader or millions, I will produce the best work I am capable of at this moment.”

Happy Writing!