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A writing style is the way in which a particular writer chooses to assemble words and sentences together to create an overall piece of writing. There are a number of different components that typically make up this style, including word choice, sentence length and structure, use of figurative language, and point of view. The style of a particular author can also vary depending on the audience and purpose of a piece of writing. A writing style can be difficult to precisely describe because it is a qualitative and subjective concept, but it is also one of the most important principles people use to judge the quality of a writer.
There are many different ways in which a writer creates his or her writing style, and these can be chosen consciously or may simply develop over time with practice. Word choice is one of the largest contributing factors regarding the style of a writer. Writers such as Edgar Allen Poe are noted for their rich prose that often contains vivid phrases with numerous adjectives to carefully create and describe a scene. The writing style of someone such as Ernest Hemingway, however, is noted for sparse sentences with precise word choice and few descriptions beyond the bare essentials needed to create a scene.
Other aspects of writing style include the use of figurative language and the perspective a writer chooses to use. These are often tied to the audience and purpose of a particular piece of writing. Someone writing an essay for school, for example, is likely to choose a professional or academic writing style with few metaphors and language that is more literal and direct than figurative and flowery. The same writer working on an original short story or fictional narrative might use a style that is more figurative and rich with evocative imagery and language.
Many writers also adjust their writing style by changing the point of view or perspective used in their writing. A school assignment is likely to be written in third person perspective, which means that pronouns in the essay are usually limited to ones like “he,” “she,” and “they.” When creating a fictional work, however, the same writer might use first or second person perspective. This type of writing includes pronouns such as “I,” “me,” and “you” to create a more informal writing style that is often more interesting as a narrative work but would be seen as inappropriate in a piece of academic writing.
@KoiwiGal - Actually I think it gets to the point where some writers couldn't write in a different style if they had to.
I know at one point Stephen King was writing under an alias, trying to see whether he could get published again, or if it was all a fluke. He published several titles under this pen name, never revealing to anyone that it was actually him doing it.
It wasn't until a librarian realized that the writing styles of both authors were so similar that he got caught out. I believe the librarian thought the pen name author might have been plagiarizing, the styles were so close.
And I have been to several author signings and lectures and they almost always sound exactly like they do in the book. The same with poets. Once you hear the voice, its that voice you'll be hearing whenever you read the book.
I don't think anyone can help their writing style.
@Mor - I think often people can't really help what their style turns out to be. I think the secret of developing a style is to both read widely and to write as much as you can.
Actually I've heard a really good quote to that effect that I can't remember exactly, but it was something like, develop a really good speaking voice, and then write in that voice.
That makes sense to me, because if you really want to be a writer, you need to write a fair amount. Most authors make their money off multiple books rather than just one.
So, you don't want to be over analyzing a single book, spending years trying to get the voice right. You want to just keep on writing different things until your writing style is a natural part of you.
Writing style is something that is really important, but almost impossible to consciously develop. Particularly if you are planning on doing a large amount of writing. You want your style to just be the way you write, not something you have to pick every word to fit.
Apparently new writers go through a starting period where they copy their favorite author's style which doesn't surprise me.
It's one of the reasons authors should read as widely as possible, so that they can be exposed to everything. You don't want to be reinventing the wheel, but you don't want to end up writing exactly like another author either.
Write the way that makes you feel good and that you enjoy reading back to yourself.