10 Ways To Develop A Unique Writing Style

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Creating and refining your own unique style of writing is important, particularly in the modern Internet age, where a high content turnover means readers are constantly in pursuit of something original and clever. However, it’s often difficult – especially when you’re just starting out – to fine-tune the way you write and embody the qualities that make your voice distinct and innovative.

So how exactly do you tease out those qualities? How do you then apply them to the actual process of writing? Here are ten hot tips to get you started today.

1. Use experiences as a springboard

Start with what you know. If you begin your writing process in a world that you’re familiar with, it’ll generally be much easier for you to slip on your characters’ shoes and immerse yourself into the setting of your story. In fact, J. K. Rowling herself based one of her best-known and most complex characters, Professor Snape, on her chemistry teacher.

Be inspired by real people, real emotions and real events. Reflect on your own journey as a human being. Reflect on small moments that seem to have permanently burned themselves into your memory, and let those reflections guide the philosophy that underpins your writing. As author Kashmira Sheth points out:

The emotional growth of your characters is one place where you can use your own experiences much more deeply. If you are writing about the summer between sophomore and junior year, then you can go back to your emotional state of that summer. Was it the summer of heartbreak, angst, rebellion, disappointment, or sorrow? How did you survive and persist? How did your emotions manifest themselves in your interactions with others? What did you learn? How did that one pivotal summer make you grow and change?”

If the content of your writing leaves you with deep and nostalgic feeling of been there, done that, then it’ll more likely exude a profound sense of realism and empathy – one that will resonate and connect with readers more powerfully.

2. Be aware of what makes your observations unique

Everyone sees the world through their own unconventional lens, but not everyone is aware of the existence of those lenses. That’s when it becomes important to take a step back and become aware.

For instance, if you’re observing the way people engage in conversation, take note not only of the dialogue, but also of the silences, of the interruptions and of the speakers’ unconscious habits like pushing up their glasses, adjusting the collar of their T-shirt or tapping their foot against the carpet. Ask yourself why those habits are emerging in the first place. Are they nervous? Are they scared of the other person’s reaction to a particular piece of news? What does this say about their relationship with one another?

As writer Annie Evett argues in her article on observational writing,

Good observational writing utilises all of the senses in describing the event, character or item; transporting your reader easily into the world you are creating or describing.”

That being said, one question you may ask is: how exactly do you utilise these senses?

3. Awaken all senses

When the reader takes a dip into the waters of your writing, they want to feel something. They want to immerse themselves in imagery that extends beyond a mere description of what can be seen. So it’s your job as the writer to ignite as many of their senses as possible.

Let’s say that you’re writing about a bushfire approaching from the distance. You may initially choose to illustrate the way the fire rapidly gains speed, leaping from tree to tree, an angry flame that cannot be tamed. But wouldn’t your setting be much more evocative if you gave the reader the capacity to hear by assaulting their ears with the strange silence that falls upon the forest, with the sudden roaring of fire as it tears through this silence, with the protagonist’s faint coughs as her lungs choke up with smoke?

And wouldn’t your scene be even more vivid if you also engaged the reader with descriptions of the scent of smoke blowing into her cheeks, of the vile taste of charcoal in her mouth, and of the soft fabric of her blouse battering against her skin as it fights a battle it knows it cannot win?

Writer of the Udemy Blog Margo Jurgens provides some further tips and advice on how to best approach writing sensory imagery.

4. Show with a spin

One of the most common pieces of advice given to writers is ‘Show, don’t tell’ – but it’s also important that you enact the ‘show’ part with a twist. Avoid using the same old words to paint a picture. Try adopting a different approach or perspective.

Let’s take the bushfire example from above. Rather than using phrases like ‘The fire roared’ or ‘Smoke billowed up into the sky’, you might perhaps juxtapose the constant ticking of the clock inside the house with the comparatively erratic rhythms of the fire leaping from treetop to treetop.

You might also use a memory or an anecdote as the transition into your description of the fire’s sudden approach: perhaps the protagonist recalls a time she watched a juggler accidentally drop his flaming torches, and contrasts how quickly the torches were extinguished with how impossible it would be to put out this monstrous bushfire.

5. Avoid clichés

It’s sometimes very easy to fall into the trap of clichés – especially in times of doubt and uncertainty, when you find yourself borrowing the storyline of your favourite novel or imitating the writing style of your favourite author or poet. This can ultimately hinder your potential for originality.

How do you rid your writing of clichés? Writer’s Digest‘s Peter Selgin suggests that the best way to avoid cliché

… is to practice sincerity. If we’ve come by sensational material honestly, through our own personal experience or imagination, we may rightly claim it as our own. Otherwise, we’d best steer clear. Our stories should be stories that only we can tell, as only we can tell them.”

Brian A. Klems gives 12 examples of clichés that ‘need to be permanently retired’, while Writer’s Web provides some tips on how you can identify and avoid clichés.

6. Be intimate with details

Intimate details are the key to enhancing the vivid quality of your writing. Be specific in your characterisation and descriptions of setting. The subtlest of movements – your protagonist tugging at the hem of his shirt, your villain tapping two fingers against the table – can help build up the mood of your story or poem, accentuating the emotions experienced by your characters.

Being specific in your details means combing through your writing and paring it down, so that it includes only those words that (in some way or form) contribute to the meaning you’re trying to convey to the reader. Word choice becomes crucial here.

Author Kristen Lamb highlights the importance of diction: ‘She bolted from her chair’ is much better than ‘She stood quickly out of the chair’, because the word ‘bolted’ holds a powerful sense of action and urgency that the phrase ‘stood quickly’ simply does not have.

7. Turn objects into metaphors

If you’re looking for inspiration, an effective exercise to get your creative mind pumping is to turn random objects into quirky metaphors. Select any item in your line of vision – a pencil, a typewriter, a mug – and write about it in the greater context of life. This exercise gives you the opportunity to turn something mundane into something totally and utterly original.

For instance, you may decide to write about the blinds by your desk. Perhaps they represent the idea that we have control over the degrees of light and dark within us; when the world inside is cold and grey, all we have to do to warm ourselves up is pull open the blinds and let bars of light in.

Feeling creative enough yet?

8. Create strong, authentic voices

A classic example of writing with a strong, authentic voice is J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye – when you read that novel, you cannot help but hear Holden Caulfield’s voice in your head. With the effective use of voice, the reader becomes so deeply submerged in the story, the characters and the underlying meanings that they forget a writer has fabricated this world.

Author Junot Díaz draws from his own characters as examples on how to strengthen the various aspects of voice. Blogger Lorrie Porter focuses more on how you can incorporate strong voice into dialogue.

9. Know the rules of writing, then break them

Don’t be afraid to experiment and to test the limits of what you think you are capable of writing. Take Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 tips on how to write a good short story, for instance. Once you understand his rules, you can start bending them and eventually start breaking them. As Vonnegut himself writes,

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor. She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”

10. Write a little every day

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect! The more you write, the more you will grow conscious of your own writing style and thus be able to improve upon it. Blogger Leo Babauta presents a range of tips on how you can write daily.

You might end up writing a few sentences, a few paragraphs, even a few pages. Quantity doesn’t matter; frequency does. So set aside some time everyday and get writing! A world of words await you. Time to turn on your mind and let your creative juices run free.

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Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/develop-unique-writing-style/

What Your Writing Style Says About You

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So you’re a writer. My condolences. You might be a fresh faced creative writing major, or a veteran freelancer, or a new writing convert with a fancy pen and a lot of ideas. There are many different types of writers, and there is no one “right way” to write. But you’ve probably noticed by now that there’s a certain pattern to your particular writing. Like it or not, you have a signature writing style, and you should probably learn to embrace it or you’ll never finish that manuscript. Here’s what your writing style says about you.

If you’ve ever read about famous writers’ writing habits, you’ve probably notice that writing styles vary wildly from person to person. Maya Angelou wrote in a hotel room with a glass of sherry. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Haruki Murakami wakes up at 4 a.m. everyday to write before running 10km. The common factor with all successful writers just seems to be that they kept at it. So, whichever writing style seems to work for you, just keep going until you hit that final page count. And maybe take a moment to think about what your writing style means, because every writer could use a healthy dose of self reflection and listicle-based procrastination:

The Procrastinator

You have elevated Not Writing into an art form. You sit down to write… and then somehow you find yourself washing the windows, or watching unboxing videos on YouTube. The only thing that can actually motivate you to work is last minute panic — so you’ve become a master of the lightning fast rewrite. You can churn out ten pages the day of your deadline. You think that arriving anywhere early is an act of aggression, and you’re always changing plans so you can submit your work on-time, but you’re excellent when it comes to thinking on your feet and improvising (especially improvising excuses).

The Nine-to-Five-er

If your writing time isn’t rigorously scheduled, it’s not going to happen. You’re an early riser who sets word count goals, takes regular snack breaks, and keeps track of pens. People think you’re naturally organised, but really, if you didn’t schedule things, your life would very quickly collapse into a vortex of chaos. You’re the friend who people rely on for getting to the airport, you keep a physical planner, you set timers, and lending out your good pens makes you anxious (you’ve been burned too many times before).

The Nocturnalist

You’re basically a vampire, if you replace all that bloodsucking with writing and eating dry Lucky Charms out of a mug. During the day you work a day job or sleep, but when the moon comes out you set up shop and write long into the night. Or maybe you plan to stop writing at a reasonable hour, but you get caught up in your screenplay and/or suspense novel, and before you know it the birds are chirping. You’re passionate about your writing, but frequently tired, and you’re forever frustrated when friends won’t answer your texts at three in the morning.

The Diligent Note-Taker

You never go anywhere without your notebook (or legal pad, or voice-to-memo app). You’re constantly scribbling down ideas, or even entire overheard conversations. You’ve gotten in to trouble for putting your friends’ quotes into your writing verbatim, but you’ve got to draw inspiration from somewhere, right? You’re almost constantly in writing mode, which is great for coming up with new ideas, but not so great when you need to put your story on pause and focus on your so-called “job.”

The Plotter

The dark cousin of the Note-Taker, the Plotter doesn’t write a word without several charts, outlines, and perhaps a binder full of paper on plotting. The Plotter approaches writing as a subset of engineering: in order to build something great, you first need several month’s worth of math. As a Plotter, you take a little extra time on big projects, and your friends don’t understand half of what you’re talking about. But your detail work is impeccable, your character backstories are extensive, and you throw the world’s best theme parties.

The Research Fiend

You have an encyclopedic knowledge of Heian Era Japan and the history of conjoined twins in America, but you’re not quite sure how to fit it all into your Veep spec script. You live for the thrill of the research, frequently fall down Wikipedia wormholes, and you consider reading to be a form of writing (you’re absorbing material!). You sometimes overwhelm people with your enthusiasm and exhaustive knowledge of cat breeds/fencing/space travel, but you’re a killer at bar trivia.

The Inspiration Seeker

Writer’s Block is your constant nemesis. You make the time for writing… and spend it staring vacantly into space. You spend a lot of time “courting inspiration” by trying out various writing spots, music choices, and latte flavors, to see what gets your creative juices flowing. When the inspiration finally hits, though, you’re a writing machine. You also spend way too long looking at the menu at restaurants, trying to decide what you want, but you’re a great friend to talk to about emotions, because you understand frustration very, very well.

The Speed Demon

You’re all about writing as much and as quickly as possible. You’re strategy is to throw absolutely everything at the wall and see what sticks. You’ll pare it down later. That’s what editing is for! You’d much rather hit that page count as soon as humanly possible, and worry about the finessing later. You’re not great at sitting still and you have no patience for meandering slice of life films.

The Detailer

The opposite of the Speed Demon, you know that writing isn’t a race. You’ll put in one comma in the morning, go about your day, and take the comma out again that night. You’ve been working on your magnum opus for years now, because you know that great work takes time. You take font choices seriously. You’re thoughtful and methodical in everything that you do, and you never let anyone see your work until you have the description of every character’s hair colour precisely right.

The Multi-Tasker

You write under the table during meetings. You have two novels and one play going at once. You’re always reading no fewer than three books at any given time. You can keep four or five online chats going at once, not to mention all those group texts. If you get blocked on one piece of writing, you just bounce on over to another (starting things is a no brainer, but finishing them is a tad harder). You drink a lot of coffee and sometimes have to be reminded to eat.

The Workshopper

You live for the feedback. Giving it, getting it, either way — you like having a writing workshop group to force you to actually sit down and write. You never know what to do with a finished piece of writing until an incisive piece of feedback slaps you in the face. You regularly outsource your outfit choices to friends, you send detailed reports on first dates, and you’re always trying to trick people to come to coffee shops with you and make you write.

The Secret Writer

You don’t talk about writing. You don’t share your writing. You only write in total solitude, preferably in some sort of cavern or attic. You’re kind of hoping that you can become a wildly successful novelist without ever letting anyone read what you’ve written but you understand that might be difficult. You don’t like social media or workshop groups, but you do kind of like the dual identity thing you have going on, because you’re basically the Batman of writing.

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Via: https://www.bustle.com/what-kind-of-writer-are-you