1. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Style

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by deadrats, Aug 24, 2016.

    I'm sure most of us have seen the two recent threads by another writer where style was mentioned. I kind of want to piggyback on the aspect of having or wanting to have a certain writing style. Do you think writers have a natural writing style and it's just out of our hands? Or do you think we can play a role in having the writing style of our choosing? I think what we read can influence to some degree. I sure hope it does because I think the stuff I read is pretty great. But I'm not sure what my own writing style really is.

    When I was just starting out with fiction, I thought I knew what my style was. I would have said things like I was a minimalist or description really wasn't my thing and considered those things part of my style. I got along pretty well, thinking I knew what my style was. But it was when I just let all that go that I became any better than I was probably going to get otherwise. So, my style has changed. I don't often think on a sentence level while writing. I am just typing the words as they pop in my head when I sit down at my keyboard. But I'm not sure where I've landed in terms of style. Is there something wrong if you don't know what your own style even is? I must have one, right? I mean I used to have one, but I don't really write like that anymore.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It can, and for some of us more than others. When I get in the groove and find that the muse is upon me, I put away all my reading. In the past I have been able to review old work and it's been pretty clear to me who I was reading at the time I wrote a given piece. The influence is there, and I don't think that's a great thing as regards cultivating one's own voice. I'm sure this isn't the case for everyone, and for those who can continue to read a hardboiled police procedural (one very distinct style) and continue writing their florid, paisley and velvet romance novel in the style that best suits that kind of writing, bully for them. That's not me. o_O
     
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  3. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    So, what's your style then? And how did you develop it? How did you even find it? I'm not even sure what I want my style to be.
     
  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a particular style is certainly something we can aim for, but I think it's probably got to be lying somewhere inside you already, even if completely dormant. Or to put it another way I believe a style will find you, not the other way around. When I read Hunter S Thomson's FaLiLV it was like something clicked inside my head. Is he a 'good' writer, technically, and in the conventional sense of the word? I don't know, and what's more I don't care. I just knew I loved his style and that I only wanted to read books with a similar approach.

    As I said in another thread I don't try to copy these writers, but I do strive for a similar style.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That's a good question (no sarcasm). I have a feeling that my writing "voice" is rather like my speaking voice. I grew up on military bases and then promptly joined the military right out of high school. In both the US and the UK there is a phenomenon known as "Army Accent". It's a "no accent" accent. It comes from no where, is not regional to anywhere, and yet is found on military bases across the world. It's an admixture of many things without any of the sharper elements that denote a particular area. In the US military it is most likened to "flat midwestern" and in the UK it's described as "somewhere between Estuary and RP". I think my writing style is like that, if that makes any sense. :)
     
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I read a lot of ghost-written fiction growing up - Sweet Valley High etc. So I started off with a very pared down style. But I couldn't finish anything I started. I began reading - Nabokov, V.C. Andrews, Richard Peck, Henry Miller and realized there were other ways to write. And I wanted to be as stylish as them. It took a long, long time to find my way. I couldn't shake off my roots of all those plain sounding books. That style just wasn't me.

    Up until then I was writing novels. It's very hard to judge style progress with a novel cause they take so long to write. I began writing and polishing shorts and it was then that I could really see my style emerge. I broke down my text and examined it ( just like I did my favorite authors ) and found I liked fragments, short sentences, vivid description, an upbeat tone, controversial subjects, and odd ideas.

    I think part of my style has more to do with the household I was raised in than just the books I read. In my house it was so noisy you had a short time to get someone's attention, say what you want ( though you'd probably be interrupted ), and in order to keep someone's attention it was best to repeat the information and throw something scandalous or outrageous into the mix. I often think this is also why I drop pronouns. It's not she or me that's important it's the event.
     
  7. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sunday afternoon, once my many children have enjoyed a traditional roast dinner at my knee-caps, so to speak - the entire family gathers, and the children transcribe my lecture series - live-spoken, transferred to easels for ease of their learning. How I love children.

    Bedtimes, I test these same young whippets in the chilled chamber loft-house. Then, spiritually refreshed, and with renewed vigour, I tip-toe down to investigate my two wives. Women who cackle in the kitchen. Naturally, I punish them both for their gluttony and for lust. Night and Day - are their names.

    So, and to summarise, my style is sober, educational, wisdom-laced some do say. Who am I to judge my greatness like Lincoln, Churchill, any chief you care to mention.

    Thank you

    Mat P Wolf, esq, BA(Hons)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think about my style. It is what it is. I think about the story I want to tell, the characters I want to portray, and where it all happens. I suspect that trying to write in a particular style would likely get in the way of the story. And, at least for me, it would come off as presumptuous.
     
  9. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    From what you said, it sounds like your writing might be edgy because of how you are using langue or voice-driven, probably both, I'm guessing. I've played with those sorts of things in my fiction, but I just don't think I have a style I can put into words so much. I think my style is... and then I go blank. I don't know. I've been really pushing myself and writing a lot lately. Maybe I'm just too close to my material to really recognize if I've got any style or not.
     
  10. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I don't really think about style. It's all about the story. But just because style was coming up on other threads I started to wonder about my style. I can't say I'm after a certain style other than it somehow falling into literary fiction, but I tend to think that is more what I am writing and not the style of the writing.
     
  11. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I feel the same way as a reader. I know what I like and I want to read more of it. But I can appreciate more styles than I would ever want to write. Maybe exposing myself to so many writers will help me find my own style. I have a hard time telling the difference between a change in style and just improving as a writer. Also, do you think as writers we should aim for a certain style? I guess I'm wondering if not having a handle on my writing style might be hurting me in any way.
     
  12. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    My focus is short stories and has been for many years. I work on longer things, but my primary interest is short stories. I think I have more of a story style (the kind of stories I write) than a writing style. I mainly just focus on having clean writing. Is clean a style? No, not really, but that's basically what I've been aiming for with the writing.
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dual wielder

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the only harm it might do is lessen your chances of getting published. If your prose is flat, stale and very formulaic then I think you have to be one hell of a good story teller to get noticed. What I mean by that is someone like HST (sorry to keep going on about him) could write a whole chapter on a meaningless cafe/bar scene and it still be brilliant and infinitely readable, whereas the formulaic writers who write these 400 page novels with complex plots - the type you see in the shops of airport lounges - could not.

    Even though I'm aiming for a style I'm very much in the same boat as yourself. Years of reading conventional stuff, the kind of 'by the numbers' writing which is considered 'correct' and follows all the rules, means my writing is an ugly mixed bag of both.

    It sounds to me as though you're reluctant to aim for the style you enjoy reading because you fear your writing may be considered a copy-cat of someone else's, but I don't have that issue. For me it's quite simple; I (try) to write what I enjoy reading, and that's not copying in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  15. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    I believe everyone has their own natural style. I also believe, as in anything, there is room for improvement and the ability to change. Nothing is set in stone, but if it is a hammer works fine too.

    Everyone has their own unique handwriting, why wouldn't their style be the same? We all think differently, we all come to conclusions are own way, and we all have our own personal experiences. Sure, there's bound to be similarities; it's a statistics game. Plenty of factors, but c'est la vie.
     
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  16. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Style in writing is very much like style in clothing.

    It helps attract initial attention, is very time consuming to maintain, and, to be honest, its covering up what people really wanted to see.

    Okay, that last part wasn't entirely true, but I couldn't let the thought go.
     
  17. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I don't know where you got your thoughts here, but I clearly said that I hoped what I read rubs off on me. Not at all worried about being a copycat. If it was that easy ro adopt a writing style, that would be awesome. I love reading, and the stuff I read I think is great. There is no problem there. I just hadn't thought about what my writing style was in a long time. I'm not sure it really matters. I'm sure when it comes down to it, I could label myself with a certain writing style if I really had to. But I am open to that style changing and it has.
     
  18. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well then this suggests you're content with your writing, so I'm not quite sure what it is you were asking us in the first place.
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only thing I can say about style is this (and you may not see the relevance until the end):

    When I was learning to act, I was taught that there are two types of actors: anger actors and guilt actors.

    Anger actors are always the same character, no matter what; John Wayne, for instance. He's always John Wayne, on or off screen.

    Guilt actors, perhaps because they feel guilty for simply existing at all, become the characters they play. Sometimes, with some of them, it's almost impossible to recognize them from one role to the next. Daniel Day Lewis comes to mind, but Dustin Hoffman is like this, too.

    I came to realize that I'm a guilt actor. My best work always came from burying myself in the role.

    And I starting applying this to writing. I approach it as playing a role and I bury myself in that role. Style comes, for me, from taking on the persona of the character, wrapping myself in it to the point where I take on those mannerisms, those modes of expression that that character would use.

    I can't really comment on how an 'anger' actor/writer would go about this except to say that I assume style would come from the natural charisma of the author/actor, just as John Wayne's appeal did.
     
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  20. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I am far from content with my writing. I was just looking for a conversation on writing styles.
     
  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know if I could write in another style. It might be an interesting exercise... I suspect I would fail.

    From my observations on writing forums, it seems a lot of people start out by emulating their favourite authors. IMO that rarely works, and the successes start coming when writers find their own style. I don't know where mine comes from; I've been compared to the same author by multiple people, but I'd never read any of her books before I began writing--I sought one out because I was curious and yep, I can definitely see the similarities.

    I think I just write the way I want to read--simple, clean, minimal description, dry humour, snappy dialogue. Yeah, honestly, I like my style. I'm sure it will develop over the years, but I think I already have an overarching 'voice' and I'm pleased with that.
     
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  22. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    For what's worth, when I started out my 'style' very clearly was influenced by my favourite author (back then, I have gone on to pastures new in the meantime). I didn't seek to write like this author, it was just that I had read too many books too many times.

    Since, it evolved out of all recognition, and at each and every step I could see the change. It wasn't there at a specific point in time, it crept up on me. Creepy business, really ;)

    And yeah, I like how I write!
     
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  23. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do this, which I suppose should be a concern, but it's more that the style I'm trying to emulate speaks / connects to my own. Does that make sense?

    But isn't this the same as emulating other writers, in a roundabout kind of way? Or are you saying you write in a style you seek as reading material, but have been unable to do so?
     
  24. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dumb question I am sure, but are style and voice the same thing or at least very similar?
     
  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup, from what I've read of your prose, I'd say you're the writer equivalent of an 'anger' actor, all charisma and panache. :)
     
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