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Developing a Writing Style

Updated: May 9, 2022

This blog has been highly requested by my co-writer Aina Wang and other author friends on my discord server. Sorry, it took me this long to delve into it!

To start off the topic, I'd like to clarify what I mean by a writing style.

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There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to developing a style. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it is an art craft, there will be a style. A style is a signature of a creator. Think of it as an artist' DNA or the personality of a sculptor embedded into their craft. Similarly, writing can be an art form that we writers hone. The style should reflect who you are as a creator and more importantly, what you stand for as a person.

Unless you're a businessman type of writer, I think you've already created some sort of preferences to picking out certain methods of word weaving in your work.

Aitsuji's Writing Style Development Guide

Note that this is merely a guide for writers who have no idea where to start. Honestly, just pick a corner and work your way around it. You'll finish the sandwich eventually. Developing a style is similar.

#1: British or Amercian?

This applies to anyone writing in English. If you prefer your version of English eg: Australian, then stand by it! I won't judge you for not picking either camp.

Personally, I think a style should start here. Your grammar structure, choice of words, spelling are derived from the English faction you ally yourself with. I'd consider myself a writer brought up following the British English under Singapore's education but with a more liberal use grammar structure in my works influenced by the honest American drag-queenish shady humour. Then I'd package my English in a Japanese light-novel & manga-esque form for my readers because I'm still that same weeb from 15 years old.

What about you?

#2: Punctuation. Period.

I know many people argue about little things like the Oxford comma. My editors certainly did. Honestly, there's no right or wrong. Before I used Grammarly, I ditched that shit. I HATE commas with passion. After getting Grammarly Premium I think it's safe to say that any free correction from them will be welcomed.

This is just one little example. Punctuation uses affect a style of a writer. It's a type of culture. These are the things that make it obvious to people when you text. We often change our way of spelling in a manner that our friends get used to seeing. If it suddenly changes, my friends will know that the person texting 'calm' isn't me because I usually go by "clam" in typo texting 9/10.

No, punctuation is a huge deal for writers. I remember an editor telling me that inserting a "~" at the end of a speech quote wasn't appropriate for publication. I listened to her for a while and decided to fuck it. Nobody's telling me not to use that when it is on the keyboard! There are also editors letting me know the difference between the hyphen, en dash and em dash. These things can really get on the nerves of a professional editor but sometimes I break those rules intentionally.

Unless you decide to abuse them like ending off every sentence with an exclamation mark instead of a full stop like Aina sometimes does, you can decide what you'd like to sprinkle into your writing style especially on writing platforms that do not give you Bold, Italics and Centre Align functions.

Not to say you should abuse punctuations and do things like uwu and :3 in your writing. I'd accept that in amateur fan fiction but not in professional work unless there's a very good reason for it. I think I did a video about this topic before that I will put below for those curious. I personally draw that line there for style and professionalism but you do you if you think emojis in your kindle is absolutely necessary.

#3: Spelling

In addition to following British or American English, spelling can play a huge role in developing your style. Many informal words like "Yeah" doesn't have a fixed correct spelling. Some people like to spell it as "Yea" and others "Yeh" or even variants like "Yee", "Yah" etc etc

I like to spell "Yupp" with double "p"s at the end for a real lip pop in reading. Over the years it's just part of me that you see in books even though the characters aren't always part of my personality. My readers will know when they see certain words that this has to be my other unpublicized pen name. It's just something uncommon and unconscious that writers do when writing.

I'm also the kind who would spell certain words with an American version when I write primarily in British because I like it better. An example would be "gray" instead of "grey" but don't ask me why, I just prefer it.

#4: Rules are meant to be BROKEN

Break the rules. Yes. The police cannot arrest you for that.

I'm talking about the grammar rules of writing rigid sentences that you use in writing your essays in school. Quite that box and get a sense of freedom! There are no rules in creation. You are the rules!

If something isn't working for you, ditch it. Modify it and find something that does or works better until you like it enough to stay. That's basically what I did for most of my life until I found a hairstyle that I really love three years ago. Stuck with that ever since but because it's such a hard cut for most stylists, I haven't been looking my best ever since the covid happened.

Maybe you're a sucker for rules if that's your thing and it's totally fine if you don't want to break them. However, I think that writers (especially fiction writers) are creatures who love to explore the unknown beyond what we can see or control. Sometimes we don't even understand half the things that we type at 4 in the morning high on double shot espressos but that's totally ok.

Kick back! Do your worst. If you like the sparkle you see in your worst, that's the exact thing that makes you uniquely yourself as a writer. Pick that up and polish it until it shines, develop that into the style that nobody else can replace.

In conclusion...

It isn't hard to develop a style. However, polishing it and making it yours will take a lot of time and practice. Naturally, there is a short cut but that route will require a lot of blood, sweat and tears. If you're ready for that sort of torture, I'll see you in the next blog to give you some hints.

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