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Owning a Writing Style

Updated: May 9, 2022

Yaho! I see that you're back for more after reading my previous blog about Developing a Writing Style. For everyone else who already has a writing style and are curious about making that sparkle, this is the reason why I write these stupid blogs that nobody reads.

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There's a fundamental difference between developing a style and owning it. It's all about the swag as the rappers call it. Granted, the confusion comes in with application because most establishing writers do not understand the difference between a writing technique and a style.

Let's dive into an example. The simplest of writing techniques in "show not tell" can be used in a quotation of a character speaking a scene to deliver a certain piece of information not using the narrator's voice.

Style #1:

Peter crooked a brow. "Very funny. You're telling me to believe that your rhino ate my pet bird while I was bathing?"

Style #2:

With a certain level of absurdity expressed by Peter's dead fish eyes, raised brow and parted jaw, John's roommate huffed. "You expect me to believe that your newly adopted rhino ate my bird when I left to shower for five minutes?"

Style #3:

Blank. Exploded. Deceased. Peter had no idea what to think as the towel hanging from his waist fell to his feet, exposing the glorious hairy berry for all to admire.

"Let me get this straight," he blinked at the grey one-horned rhino trampling across their campsite. "This thing ate Buddy?"

Offended, John shot his friend a glare. "It's not a thing! Meet Rambo my new pet Rhino!"

==End of Case Study==

All three styles were talking about the same thing - a Rhino ate someone's pet bird while they were taking a shower.

However, the way the plot developed from there, pacing, choice of words, punctuations and even tone chosen to tell the story gave each style a very different feel. Of course, there would be more than just 3 styles to choose from. Your favourite might not be here but that's why every writer is unique and no two writers should write the same thing the same way unless one of them plagiarised.

Depending on your story and what reaction you're aiming at from your readers, you should adopt the style appropriately. If you're going for a humour-esque drama queen vibe, by all means adopt style #3. If you just want to get over it with some strict comedy to build up from, feel free to go with #1. If you're looking for a teen vibe then maybe #2 is your fav.

Again, it all comes down to preference and market demand.

So how do you know what to use, how to develop 100 styles and pick the most appropriate one for your next best-seller?

Here are some of the methods I used for the last decade.

#1: Writing Prompts

This has got to be my all-time favourite. Before I knew about Reddit and their prompt community, I used to admin for one of the biggest KHR fan pages on Facebook back in the days (I was Sen who RP-ed Hibari) so for the fan giveaway festivals, I would accept a lot of fan requests for their favourite characters, pairings and plots.

Believe me, writing 16 one-shots in one night to deliver to fans for their participation wasn't easy. However, that helped me grow as a writer and I realised that I could do more. Hence, the journey of writing prompts started.

Prompts are great because they fuel your creativity and do not require much stamina for plotting and the likes of it. The same prompt written by a thousand writers will never have two writers writing exactly the same things. Participating in a prompt exercise with other writers is a good way to study and understand more about different styles. It helps you refine where you're lacking as you learn from one another.

#2: Genre Hopping

This is one of my favourite things to do. As a writer, you start writing a certain genre mostly because you're a fan of it. However, variety is the key to developing 100 styles. Each genre comes with a basket of frequently used phrases/vocabulary that you might already be familiar with. However, in there, there lies stagnation.

Moving out of the genre teaches you a new set of phrases/vocabulary that you might adopt and modify for your primary genre. That hybrid is often unique to readers who only read one genre their whole life. It makes you a little different from the other thousands of romance writers etc who also write vampire stories.

Not everyone is cut out to do every genre. I know for a fact that romance is the bane of my existence so I try not to delve into it too much unless there's BL involved. Don't feel bad if you're not able to write horror or fantasy either, just explore. Who knows, you might secretly be talented in dystopian cyberpunk!

#3: Anthologies

This is similar to writing prompts. However, unlike writing prompts, anthologies are themed around a certain subject and genre more than a plotline. You don't have to invest so much effort and kill your brain cells when writing an anthology. Think of it as a serial short story with multiple of these in one collection.

A good example of an anthology is Time Cross Academy. Each story isn't very long but all the short stories are written in the same world and the characters can sometimes feature as a side character in another main character's anthology.

Anthologies are great for building up your experience in a certain genre as a writer before you invest fully into making a new book in that particular genre. Most times, anthology writers don't continue a series because they realise that it's not something they would enjoy or be able to handle. On the other hand, there are great serial anthology writers who continue it as a series and that works too if you like it better than editing a mammoth 80k manuscript after two months!

#4: Rewriting the classics

This is something I don't know many writers doing. I often find myself revisiting certain books or writers that I like and rewrite their work in my way just for fun. You won't find this anywhere else because I won't post it. It's just something that I do (even mentally) to see how I would turn that piece into my own without losing any of the original colour that I like.

It helps to rewrite the classic because here, you're learning how to preserve original content while inducing colours that complement what you like. The first few attempts might be horrible but over time, you'd come to learn what is and isn't a style that you would keep and how much to influence a piece of work.

#5: Reading Out of the Comfort Zone

The last point is rather similar to Genre Hopping. Reading out of your comfort zone often comes with a risk of glancing at works done by preteens with elephantine egos and grammar that would make your eyes bleed.

However, this exercise is great because we're learning to discern what a dislikeable style is and what a likeable one is. There's always much to learn even for an established writer. It doesn't matter if you've been writing for two thousand years, you always have new things to learn as new books are always written daily.

Reading out of your comfort zone introduces you to many new perspectives and that's going to be a huge asset to you as a writer when developing a hundred styles. Not everyone has multiple personalities like myself but you could definitely put yourself in someone else's shoes if you tried. This exercise just helps it but prepare a lot of blood bags to replenish all the blood you're going to vomit.

In conclusion...

If you feel like you've been cheated about the shortcut after reading this blog, don't be. After all, I just saved you the first step of actually finding out how to go about owning your writing style. Discovering this method took me years and I spent more years practising this so now that you know the "how to", consider yourself receiving a huge discount.

If you don't believe me, that's fine too. Every writer must make their own path to becoming the writer they envision themselves to be. So go forth and embark on the journey to becoming a badass scribe with 10,000 styles at your disposal! I'll race you there!

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