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  1. Chloelouise

    Chloelouise New Member

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    Style Do you think you have a unique style?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chloelouise, May 24, 2020.

    Sometimes when I read a book with a really distinct voice I get overwhelmed with the feeling that I’ll never have a voice or style so clear and unique. Right now it’s Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, others authors that come to mind would be Margaret Atwood and Michelle McNamara. Certain turns of phrase just fit so perfectly and consistently, like it’s obvious and just waiting to be read, if that makes sense. I worry that my writing is just other people’s vibes (for lack of a better word) mixed together. I guess my question is, if you feel that you have a unique style, did you develop it on purpose or did you just notice it? Is it something you work on or does it come naturally?
     
  2. Roberta Parsnip

    Roberta Parsnip New Member

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    I had a professor say I have a very engaging writing style, but there are a lot of authors who have an engaging writing style. So, I would say, no, I don't have a unique style in my prose.

    What I think distinguishes my work from everyone else's is that I write to a theme. I write about things I'm passionate about and things that I feel should be said.
     
  3. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

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    I'm still new to writing and so I don't know what my style is (I'd have to finish a book, including edits, before I can judge that).

    But this line of questioning reminds me a lot of what I saw in terms of drawing/painting. The pursuit of a unique style is strong there.

    Ultimately my takeaway from that advice was that style is something that is unique to each person. Even if you don't think your style is unique, it is. And generally what I heard when it came to improving your style (beyond simple practice) was to look at other people's work. Take what you like, leave what you don't. Even if you try to copy outright, you'll fail and your own unique style will start to show through.

    It's hard for me to explain, and I don't think I'm quite doing it justice. But I'd say if you are unhappy with your current style try analyzing what you like about your favorite authors' styles and implement some of that into your own work more. You won't be able to capture it perfectly (that's kind of the point) but in the process you'll develop your own style into something that, hopefully, you'll be happier with.

    Also remember that we tend to be terrible at accurately judging our own work, either being too critical or too impressed. So even if you don't think your writing is unique, readers might think otherwise.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    ^^ Yes, this is what I was about to say. I also have pursued drawing and painting for a long time, and in that world as well as here in the writing realm I hear the same. Don't try to 'develop your style', concentrate instead on learning the basics and then the intermediate level stuff. Style will sort itself out, and as @TOP said it happens naturally. Anything you try to push as your style is really more of an affectation and only getting in the way of your work.
     
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  5. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Everyone has a voice in my opinion. It's just about making it loud for the people in the back. Your interests and personal skills help accentuate your voice. Also what you aren't good at or interested in exploring in writing. I wouldn't really concentrate on "voice" so much. I think that's a weirdly abstract way of thinking about your style. Think about what tone you like, what genres, sub genres, niches. What part of the human condition you enjoy, what parts you don't (writing wise). What you like describing, what you're good at detailing, etc. "Voice" can be broken down in those things. Let the readers worry about the intangible tenor of your throbbing writer voice. It's often hard to define anyway, just something you "sense". Well, to me anyway but I'm not a shining example of organized thought.
     
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think so.
    I couldn't see it in my novels too much of a time gap between them and too many left unpolished but I really noticed it with my short stories. I had no idea what my style would be as all my life I've waffled between liking really cheap genre novels and lush prose like Nabokov and Lygia Fagundes Telles and Angela Carter. And I tried once to sound like Nabokov and it was awful! I think with the short stories I found my balance - I like lush details but I cannot sustain a block of them, too much genre background. So that's emerged as part of my style; a way to be both readable and poetic. And with a handful of short stories its easier to spot patterns, and see how you tell a story, recognize word choice and themes.

    I do work on it by reading poetry - I like lyricism, and I want my prose to have that same quality. And sometimes when I write my first draft I know it's dry and doesn't sound like me, that it's a layer that has to be built on. It takes some work but once you spot your voice it's impossible to un-see it.
     
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  7. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    I don't know about unique, since I've only recently started thinking about voice and I don't believe I have much of a conscious handle on it. I do however think that I tend to try to sound a certain way when I write. Whether that is distinctly me or would remind you of some other writer, I can't tell.
     
  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    I kind of define "unique" as whether you can identify the author after 5 pages without having their name on the cover. Think of a unique sound in music... you can identify a Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Alice in Chains song within the first four bars. They just have a sound that is impossible to copy.

    Books are much more difficult, but I would put Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, and William Faulkner in that category. You kind of have to be ubiquitous (or prolific) enough to qualify, in my opinion. I've read plenty of one-off novels that sounded unique, but there is no real identifiable "style" until several works have been produced.

    As for old Homer? Who knows. Check back with me if I ever write anything again.
     
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  9. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

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    I've only just decided what genre I prefer to write, so I don't think I have a style... yet. I echo what a lot of others are saying, though, so I'll just say I think now I have a direction and an understanding with myself about what and how I want to write, it'll be easier to make revisions on the stuff I have written.
     
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  10. srahfox

    srahfox New Member

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    I've found that whether I think I have a distinct style or not, be it writing or art, other people say I do. I suppose as I'm not the one ultimately who is going to do the reading or looking, what they think means more than my thoughts on the matter. With that thought, I write what wants to be written in the way it comes to me, I don't actively work on my voice. I suspect that most writers or artists with an identifiable style didn't necessarily actively plan out that style.

    The only time I really worked on a distinct style of voice was when I was writing a short with a very visual friend in mind. He wasn't normally a reader, and as we'd talked about what he did like, I really catered it to him. It was a visual as I could manage, and took an immense amount of concentration to do so. The friend loved it so much it's about the only written thing he ever talks about. I've had requests from other people for a continuation, but frankly since I created the style for that story, I doubt I could replicate it.
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think I've got a unique style ...and it's not something I strive to create. The greatest compliment I was ever paid by a beta-reader (a friend of mine) was: "After the first couple of pages I forgot it was you who had written it." That's my goal. I want my stories to matter, not my style.
     
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  12. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    "So..so how was the retreat? Did you take my manuscript, I said you would, I knew you..!"

    "My god, I took your story, it filled a case, and y'know after the first couple of pages I forgot it was you who had written it, heh, heh...and, and, and that's about as far as I got with your Custer's Pony...I mean there were puffins on this island...and it wasn't really a reading sort of place, all quiet and solitude, mainly for praying.."
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  13. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    I forgot about @matwoolf. He definitely has a unique style. Don't need to see his avatar to tell that he's written even the most mundane of posts.
     
  14. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Unique. That's a good word for it. :rolleyes:
     
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  15. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    shoot HIM! @Moose, kill that horrible boy, DO IT..
     
  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Sorry Mat, just kidding! It took me a while to get used to your style, but now I savor it like a fine wine. You know how wine is, it can make you feel really special, until all of a sudden you get a little too much and then you have to lie down for a while, maybe with a damp cloth over your head. But I mean that in only the best way!
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
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  17. RMBROWN

    RMBROWN Active Member

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    Style is worth little if there is noting to say. Voice is how you paint the picture. The gifted painting of dull scene, is still dull; the average painting of an exciting event will always be of more interest. I read lots of stories that lack a real story, lack a voice, lack the stuff that makes me want to continue to the next paragraph. My favorite quote has always been Ken Kesey's "Good writin, is not always good readen."

    Do I have a distinct style, yes. If you read a bunch of my stories it would not be hard to pick out one I have written out of batch of ten or more. I would like to think it is my powers of observation into human nature and natural events that make my writing worth reading, the way set the story to how I end it, all are style, all are voice. I think the connection between the two is so strong that it is the equivalent of listening to great story told in monotone or a well told story that spins in circles and goes no where. Balance has always been the key to good storytelling.
     
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  18. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I had a unique style. I think it was what's known in the literary world as 'shit'.

    Although thinking about it I reckon that style's more common than unique.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  19. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    It's tricky to think about style. I think first your writing needs to reach a certain level of clarity, and sometimes writers think, "Well, oh, that's just my style" when really confusing and work that reads rough is really not a style. When the prose lack clarity, the last thing anyone is going to notice or think about is style. And believing you have a style before you really develop a true style can hold a writer back from improving or making changes that are best for the story.

    I publish short stories and essays on a (somewhat) regular basis. I'm lucky to work with some really great editors. But when you work with magazine editors, there is a lot more revision involved than you think there should be. At least, this is true for me and many of the writers I know. And it can feel like pretty much killing all your darlings the whole way through at times. I have learned good editors shape your work and pull out your style. There is very little pushback if any from me when it comes to following the direction and suggestions from editors. From acceptance to publication there might be substantial changes made. These strengthen the piece, not hurt or take anything away from your style. But this can be a hard lesson to learn. My advice is not to search for a style, but to write with clarity and purpose. A style will start to come through. Honing that style can be pretty tough and probably takes years.

    I do believe I have a style in the sense that if an editor solicits work from me, they sort of know what kind of story and writing to expect. I think style happened somewhere between not being very good and turning prolific as both a writer and reader. But my so-called style came with a bunch of pitfalls that I had to overcome and retrain myself in some ways to write at the level I was aiming for. I second the idea of reading poetry. This improved my writing quickly and effortlessly. I have tried many times to adopt some style techniques from favorite authors, and while I think doing so has improved my writing, I think it would be hard to tell where such style elements came from. There are some authors I would love to write like, but I don't think that sort of thing shows through in the way some new writers worry. If developing a writing style was as easy as copying somebody else's, then almost everyone could be a great writer. But regularly exposing yourself to good writing, does improve someone's overall writing abilities. Just keep working at it snd style will be there when the writing gets there.

    I had a professor once tell me, "You found your voice," after reading one of my short stories. "Now, just write everything like this," he concluded. There I was with the best story I had written at the time and no idea what my writing voice was or how to proceed with this voice in my future writing. But I think when you do find your writing voice or style (to me that mean the same thing) it's there even if you're not sure what it means. It's not something I worry about. But I have been asked before about my writing. What's my writing like? Who do I write like? I can answer these sort of questions, but I don't really think that stuff maters too much. But it probably does take a whole lot of writing before any sort of real style worth holding onto emerges.
     
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  20. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I just want to add that the language we use and how we write a story is as important if not more important than the actual story, in my opinion. Just think about all those aspiring writers with great ideas. In the end, it all comes down to what's actually on the page. And I guess that's pretty much the style, right?
     
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  21. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    Thas more like it :) :)
     
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  22. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    My writing style has drastically changed and taken form as I grew as a writer and a person.

    With my past writings I could get wordy and info dump. Getting off track without really even saying anything. Much like with how I'd communicate.

    Someone recently said on the feedback given me from part of a short story I'm working on, that my style was compact and stated things only necessary to the story and I really appreciated that because that's what I been thinking.

    Ive found that flare and beautiful prose is much more impactful when it stands on its own and isn't just a coating of sugar on already tired, pretentious drivol.

    Im not sure if my style is unique but it's mine and I'm glad to have developed in this manner.
     
  23. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure there is so much as a distinct writing voice. Because what connects to one person may not to someone else.
     
  24. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

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    The alluring gentleman stroked his bristly beard before replying.
    - I use hyphens instead of quotes, so yeah... Minimalism is my style. You will learn to love it.

    Unaware of the outside world, the cold darkness had corrupted every part of his twisted mind.
     
  25. Joseph F

    Joseph F New Member

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    I used to have a more defined style. Lately it feels like it's been changing and I haven't gotten a handle on it yet. I've gone from more byzantine sentence structure and more exotic, maybe even esoteric, vocabulary to favoring a more pared down style. I think that's a result of my love for noir and the terse, acerbic style that's often found in that genre.
     

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