There is no secret formula to developing a trademark writing style, but here are some suggestions that may help you:
- Read something terrific before you start writing.
A half hour spent reading exquisite prose can often inspire you and jumpstart your stalled creative flow. Read a diverse assortment of great books to immerse yourself in many styles.
- Be specific about your tone.
Tone is a subtle thing, and it overlaps sound, style, and voice. Whereas voice is really generated and inspired by your characters, tone is something more consistent throughout your book. It’s the overall feel you give the narrative and story.
- Consider how much “author” presence you want to seep through.
Some writers are very present in their stories, giving their opinions on what they write about. But sometimes that’s not appropriate for the genre or type of story being told.
- Be true to yourself.
When you write, try to listen to what your body is telling you. There’s an uneasy feeling, a discomfort a seasoned writer feels when she veers away from a true and honest writing voice and starts forcing the style for one reason or another.
- Allow yourself to ‘freewrite’ and experiment.
Turn off the infernal internal critic and play with your thoughts and words.
- Read your work out loud to yourself or someone else.
This can help you hear the cadence and rhythm of your words. Getting feedback from a listener can also help. (Just be sure to pick someone whose opinions are constructive and insightful.)
So, if you want to develop that trademark writing style, spend some time considering your genre and audience, and study successful books that are similar to yours to see what kind of writing style the authors employ.
Play around with your writing and give yourself some freedom to experiment. Then trust your gut to tell you whether you’re being genuine or derivative or phony.
In time, your beautiful trademark writing style will emerge.
What challenges have you encountered and/or overcome in searching for a strong, honest voice in your writing? Please share in the comments!