Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday's Tip - Revision - Style

When I first looked at this I thought Style was the same as Voice but I'm not sure. Voice is the individual writer's way with words and in many ways so is Style. But Style goes even further. Each genre or sub genre has a certain style often in the way things are said. A cozy mystery is different from a mystery suspense or from a noir mystery. The flavor of a romance is different from that of science fiction. Style defines the story.

When you start a story you're introducing the characters, defining the time and place, establishing a point of view and letting the reader know what kind of story this will be. The choices the writer makes keep the story heading in the right direction.

Where does style spring from.
1. The reading the writer has done in the type of story they plan to write. I remember when I began writing short stories years ago, I read dozens of collections of short stories, often collections done by a single writer. Do I write like them, no but this reading showed me a reader's expectations and how to reach them. I did the same thing when I began writing novels.

2. Reading also made me realize a bit about style. There are some writers that I can read a page or two where there's no name on the heading and know which writer wrote them. Studying them helped me to see their stylistic tricks. Have I allowed some of these things to creep into my own work, probably, but not as a copycat exercise but as a way of approaching the story.

3. Listening - What are the people around you saying? How are strangers speaking. Sometimes when in a group I know I rather phase out because something I've heard allows me to take the story I'm working on in a different direction. Listening to other writers in critique group often allows me to make constructive comments and sometimes to hear when the rhythm is broken.

4. Writing, writing and writing. I've often taken a place, a word something I've read and written a page or two in my own words. The more one writes the easier finding a style becomes. Poetry became for me an exercise in learning how to choose words for their impact..

5. Revision helps develop the style, This makes you pay attention to the words that build into a scene and the scenes that form the story.

More on the particulars of revision next week.

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