What is your writing style?

One of the unspoken things in writing is determining your style. This indirectly determines your audience, and visa versa. For example, if you write and speak like a truck driver, you wouldn’t (easily) write schoolbooks for children. The latter (school children writing to truck drivers) would have the potential reader stop for lack of interest and the latter would be inappropriate.

In your past writings, are they light and flowery? You might want to consider writing the aforementioned children’s books. If your writing is prosy, not pretty, and haunted by darkness, you might want to consider writing more “gray” area heroes in your sci-fi or fantasy musings. More so even, eee gads, go all out and delve into horror.

Especially if you haven’t written more than a few stories or a single novel, you may want to consider your speech. Are you funny (it’s okay if you’re not)? Do you talk a lot, or mean a lot when you say little? For example, I was about to attend a meeting and one of the other attendees noticed that there was only a quarter pot of coffee left as the meeting was about to start and asked if he should make some more. A “normal” coffee drinker of higher caliber might have responded:

“You’d better make three!” This would have signaled that the lot of us (about thirty in the room) would rather have the coffee already made so that non one would have to later disrupt the meeting to make another pot. I didn’t even think about it….it just fell out of my mouth:

“Does a bear shit in the woods?” The underlying meaning here is that the requester should keep making coffee until we say stop (bears don’t go to the bathroom other than in the woods). Conversely, had the request been if more MILK should be poured, I would have responded “Does a bear use a commode?” (No, they don’t…at least not that I’ve ever heard of.) Sidebar: I don’t intend on writing children’s books anytime soon.

There are no right or wrong answers here– only honest ones. Another facet of style is that whether or not you like to write expansive descriptions describing every detail of the weather, the sounds, and smells of a particular scene? A romance novel might be better suited to you. Conversely I seem to have a knack for….how do they say….being “direct”. Some months ago a friend of mine was in the hospital and I went to go see him. After being informed that only immediate family were allowed to see him I politely asked the nurse for something to write on. I wrote him a note– Hey Joe! Give ’em Hell! ….and then I signed it. Later I found out that the patient (knowing who I was) thought that it was rather funny. Am I going to be writing romance novels anytime soon? No, of course not.

Another part of style is the context of yourself and the analogies you use to describe things. If the reader is unfamiliar with the context of the analogy, then it may be time to find a different audience. As an example, I was retyping a story of mine onto the Internet the other day and in writing the story I was trying to impart on the reader how many boxes (as in lots and lots of them) were crammed onto a shelf. I mentioned something about how closely cares are parked in New York. Now if the reader has never been to New York but still has lived most or all of his or her life in a large American city then the vision of what I’m trying to have the reader see comes off fairly well. What if the reader has never been to America or heard of New York? Maybe I should stick to North American readers….probably a good idea.

So the question becomes, what do you do if you don’t know your audience (i.e. you’re trying to find one)? Keep writing. Not everyone is going to like your writing– and that includes me. That’s okay….someone will. The trick is to find a fan base that wants to read your writings– of whatever genre you choose– and success will follow.


2 thoughts on “What is your writing style?

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