To change your writing style, it’s best to have a plan. Try this. Identify the elements of writing then change one element at a time for what you believe will be an improvement. Then study basic elements for changing style, and then practice. Here are examples:
Look for replacement words that accurately supply imagery, ideation, and emotion for the content and meaning of a story. There are so many word alternatives!
The Oxford English Dictionary lists twenty-seven alternatives to the noun “pleasure,” forty-two choices for the adjective “perfect,” seventy-four choices for the verb “move,” such as go, advance, travel, walk, carry, bring, take, fetch, etc.
Your style depends on word choices and makes your writing unique.
Example: how changing one word can change the effect of imagery.
Woke up this morning looking ‘round for my shoes,
You know, Baby, I got those old walking blues
Woke up this morning feeling ‘round for my shoes,
You know, Baby, I got those old walking blues
The word “feeling” tells us much more than “looking.” It provides touch-and-feel images that suggest it’s dark before dawn, probably a bedroom, and he’s probably dressing for travel. The word “feeling” helps imagine a tactile blues-drenched setting, not intangible nor abstract, and the probable emotions of a woman.
Take away. Remember… persistent, habitual use of a Thesaurus forms the style of a writer!
Broadly, voice is everything a narrator or a character thinks, acts, or says expressed in the prose. Voice in storytelling is individual to every writer.
“Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this school that’s in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You’ve probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence.” The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger
“I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the home-centered interests which rise up around the man who first finds himself master of his own establishment, were sufficient to absorb all my attention, while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature.” Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
In the passive voice, the verb acts on the subject of the sentence. For example, “The ball was thrown by the pitcher.” The verb (thrown) acts on the ball (the subject). The subject does not perform the action of the verb. Compare the active voice: “The pitcher threw the ball.” Neither is incorrect but overuse of passive is not recommended in fiction or non-fiction.
Rhythm in prose is a major contributor to voice and style. It is easier to read and makes transfer of idea and image easier.
Consider Shakespeare. “I came to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” Rhythmic iambic pentameter.
Compare the next two sentences written without regard to rhythm/meter that are less readable or easily comprehended:
We must bury Caesar. He deserves burial, not praise OR
Caesar deserves no praise; I’ve come only to bury him.
Syntax is the arrangement and rearrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences. The most common arrangement is the sequence of subject (S), verb (V), and object(O). Rearrangement is a way for writers to express creativity and stimulate interest.
Changes in syntax identify your style.
Metaphor, which allows writers to convey vivid imagery that transcends literal meanings, creates images that are easier to understand and respond to than literal language. Metaphorical language activates the imagination and the writer is more able to convey emotions and impressions through metaphor. Example:
Like a seed in the ground, creative capacity lies dormant, filled with potential that can give rise to unexpected blossoms that create turning points and sustain constructive change.
Take away: You can practice metaphors daily to challenge your imagination: X is like Y, or P is Q. It can be enjoyable–you don’t need to always write to learn, just think.
BALANCE OF FICTION ELEMENTS
Dialogue, narrative, exposition, imagery, abstract vs concrete, punctuation, verbal accuracy, point of view, are different fiction elements of a story. Relative size and positioning, as well as quality of these elements, will directly affect readability, comprehension, and enjoyment without altering your content.
Discover more: You can read the entire essay (without cost)) here:
Thanks for reading,
William H. Coles