What is writing style? Style includes the choices fiction writers make, consciously or not, in writing a story. It’s a choice that reflects a unique voice and personality. Developing a distinct writing style can help you stand out from the crowd and create work that resonates with readers.
In this post, we’ll explore some key elements of writing style, give examples of how different writers use them, and offer tips for developing your own voice.
What is writing style? For most authors, it is the method they practice in writing. It varies from author to author, depending upon the author’s syntax, word choice, and tone. We can also define it as the voice that readers/audience hear when they read the author’s work. It is how you know a Stephen King from a Nora Roberts to a Jodi Picoult to a Brandon Sanderson – you can tell their writing apart by their style.
Basically, the method that an author practices in their writing. It varies from author to author, depending upon the author’s syntax, word choice, and tone, among other things. It can also be defined as the voice that readers/audience hears when they read the author’s work.
Writing style is an essential aspect of any writer’s craft. Style includes the choices fiction writers make, consciously or not, in writing a story.
It’s a choice that reflects your unique voice and personality. Developing a distinct writing style can help you stand out from the crowd and create work that resonates with readers.
Elements of Writing Style
There are many elements of writing style, but some of the most important include word choice, sentence structure, tone, and voice. Here’s an overview of each:
This refers to the specific words you choose to convey meaning. Some writers prefer simple language, while others use more complex and ornate language. Your word choice can create a specific mood or tone in your writing.
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This refers to how you arrange your words and phrases in a sentence. Some writers prefer short, punchy sentences, while others use longer, more complex sentences. Sentence structure can affect the pacing and flow of your writing.
This refers to the overall attitude or mood of your writing. It can be serious, humorous, sarcastic, or anything in between. Your tone can influence how readers perceive your writing and the emotions it evokes.
This refers to the unique personality and perspective that comes through in your writing. Your voice makes your writing distinctively “you.” It can be quirky, irreverent, poignant, or anything else that reflects your personality.
Other elements include point of view, choice of narrator, tense, grammar, punctuation, paragraph length, paragraph structure, tone, imagery, chapter usage, and title selection.
Examples of Writing Style
Now that we’ve defined some of the key elements of writing style, let’s look at how different writers use them. Here are four well-known authors who have distinct writing styles:
We know Hemingway for his spare, simple prose and short, declarative sentences. They often describe his writing style as masculine and no-nonsense. Here’s an example from his novel The Old Man and the Sea.
♦ He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.
Faulkner is famous for his complicated, mind-wandering writing style. His writing can be tough to get through, but it’s worth it if you give it your full attention. Check out this complicated sentence example from his novel The Sound and the Fury.
♦ In the midst of chaos, Dilsey, the matriarch of the Compson family’s servants, confronts her own sense of duty and morality, grappling with the ever-shifting, fractured reality of the Compson household, reflecting the broader theme of decay and decline in the novel.
Toni Morrison’s writing is all about the experiences of Black Americans, and it’s really poetic and vivid. Her writing is a mix of beautiful and thought-provoking words like this example.
♦ She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.
We know Stephen King for his fast-paced, suspenseful writing style and use of conversational language. Often we compare King’s writing to a movie, with vivid descriptions and an emphasis on action and plot. Here’s an example from The Shining.
♦ Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.
James Patterson’s books are often described as page-turners, with short chapters, cliffhangers, and plenty of action to keep the reader engaged. Patterson is a master of suspense, and his books often feature complex, high-stakes plots that keep the reader guessing until the very end.
♦ As Detective Alex Cross chased the serial killer through the dimly lit streets of the city, his thoughts were a swirling maelstrom of doubts and fears, haunted by the ghosts of cases unsolved and the relentless ticking of the clock counting down to the next victim.
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10 Tips to Develop Your Writing Style
Style is our natural way of writing: it can be brief, long-winded, chatty, absurd, casual, light, heavy, and so on. My advice…
1. Read widely: Reading helps you develop an ear for the rhythms and cadences of language. When you read, you will gain exposure to different writing styles and techniques which you can use to inform your own writing.
2. Experiment with different styles: Don’t be afraid to try out different writing styles. Experimenting will help you find your own unique style.
3. Write regularly: Writing is a skill that needs to be practiced regularly. Set aside time each day or week to write, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
4. Be concise: Good writing is often concise and to the point. Avoid using unnecessary words or phrases, and aim to communicate your ideas clearly and efficiently.
5. Use active voice: Writing in the active voice can make your writing more engaging and direct. Rather than saying “the ball was thrown by the boy,” say “the boy threw the ball.”
6. Vary your sentence length: Using sentences of different lengths can make your writing more interesting to read. Try mixing longer, more complex sentences with shorter, simpler ones. ProwritingAid has a sentence report that can help with this.
7. Show, don’t tell: Rather than simply stating your ideas, try to show them through vivid descriptions and examples. This can help make your writing more engaging and memorable.
8. Edit and revise: Writing is often a process of revision. After you’ve written a draft, take time to edit and revise it. Cut out unnecessary words, rearrange sentences, and refine your ideas until you’re happy with the final result.
9. Develop a writing routine: Establishing a routine can help you develop good writing habits. Choose a time and place where you feel comfortable and free from distractions, and make writing a regular part of your routine.
10. Get feedback: Feedback from others
Ultimately, the key to developing a storytelling style is to be true to yourself and your voice. Don’t be afraid to take risks, try new things, and push the boundaries of what’s possible in your writing. With enough practice and persistence, you, too can develop a writing style that’s uniquely your own. Just be you.
Last Words on Writing Style
Developing a writing style is a process that takes time and practice. By studying the writing styles of prominent authors like Hemingway, Faulkner, King, and Patterson, you can gain valuable insights into what makes great writing. Each author has their own unique approach to writing that has won them legions of fans.
Whether you prefer a fast-paced, plot-driven style or a more introspective, character-driven approach, there’s a writing style out there that’s perfect for you.
Feature image by NoName_13 from Pixabay.