One of my favorite shows is CSI. I can honestly say that I haven’t missed many episodes. I like the show so much that there are times when I be-bop around the living room singing the intro song as it comes on.
One day, while watching it in syndication, and singing to my plants (yes, I sing to my babies) I stopped and asked myself the question. Who am I? I added to the question to ask, Who am I as a writer? What’s my writing style? What is writing style and how do I determine mine?
So off I went to the Internet. I found several blog articles on determining style, but not one that told me what style exactly is (I’m a bit OCD so I had to have that question answered.) I kept looking and stumbled upon an answer which I cobbled together from various sources.
It’s very important for a writer to know their own style. But what is style? It is your own unique writing voice. As my sister/friend told me recently, it’s as unique as your own speaking voice. But style isn’t limited to that. It’s also what’s inside of you. It’s the story told the way that no one else can.
So how do we determine our writing style? Well, I can honestly say there isn’t a secret ancient code or anything so mysterious. It’s really simple.
First, read a lot! Read everything and anything you can get your hands on. Now some would argue that you should limit what you read to what you are planning to write. However, when you do that, you limit your own voice. It’s the same as if you are a child learning to speak and the only person you ever hear is your mom. If she has a limited vocabulary, then so will you. So do not limit your reading to your own genre.
Second, when you do write, make sure you write like you speak. Don’t try to impress people with big words that only someone with a Ph.D in Astrophysics can understand. You also want to make sure, though, that when you do your editing, you correct your grammar. Some of us do a hatchet job on the English language when we speak. So writing “ain’t go no”, unless it’s part of a conversation, might not be a good idea.
Fourth, Write, Write, and Write some more. You will not determine your writing style unless you practice writing. Now, this isn’t to say that you will practice writing with the sole purpose of publishing. That will come later. Just as a child has to practice speaking to better their communication, we have to practice writing.
Last, but certainly not least, do not attempt to clone anyone else’s style, writing life or accomplishments. One of the biggest problems that a lot of writers have, is that we try to fit in with others. Don’t do it! Set up your own writing schedule. Learn to write in ways that work for you. There is no all-inclusive magical route to becoming a successfully published author. Yes, there are many who have found ways that work for them. But what’s good for Orson Scott Card is not necessarily good for me. Find out what others do and take what works for you and toss the rest.
This is by no means an exhaustive list–just one to get you started on identifying your own voice. The more you pursue it, the more you will start to see your own voice emerge.