Developing your writing style

The style with which a person writes is unique to each individual. Quirks, turns of phrase, and sometimes unusual habits make up the way in which a person expresses their thoughts. Style will also be tailored and tweaked depending on the context; when a person writes a formal essay, it will be in a different style to the one they utilise when writing a diary entry. The setting dictates, to a degree, the linguistic choices a writer makes, but their individuality will also have an impact upon the writing.

Consider this in terms of a painting; the choice of paint, medium, brush, and colours all depend upon the artist, and different artists will make different choices according to the effect they wish to produce. However, the overall style retains some indicators and this is why an expert in painting can identify which paintings belong to famous artists, using clues which are consistent throughout their work.

Style ought to be something subconscious, but it is important to analyse and understand your style.

  1. You should not be thinking about it too much when writing, or you will lose its natural flair, but developing good style is key to effective communication.
  2. Think about the effect you want to produce; do you seek to convey brevity, sarcasm, irritation, admiration, or some other effect upon your reader?
  3. What tools would you choose for this purpose?

Just as a painter might choose dark colours to convey a sense of gloom or fear, you might choose certain words or a sentence structure which reflects the mood you want to express.

A good exercise to understand the practicalities of this theory would be to choose a passage from a book which you feel is particularly effective, and then deconstruct it and understand what choices the writer has made. If all the sentences are short and simple, they may be attempting to express urgency, while if they are long and languid, the scene may prove more relaxed.

There are no hard and fast rules, but looking at the choices they have made can help you understand how language and syntax impact upon the atmosphere of a piece.

Developing your own style comes through practice and extensive reading. Reading the work of others will give you ideas and inspiration, allow you to decide what is effective and what is less effective. Your style will subconsciously develop into something which is natural, and absolutely unique to you.