Finding a style
April 9, 2013

Writing style:

What is it? Is it genre-specific – a certain format that stamps the writers presence on their prose? Is it content specific – dependent on what you are writing about? Or is it all down to intent? An underlying principle that delivers a specific impact aside from the words it is conveyed through.

Probably all of these- and more. Style is a writer’s personal signature created through their collection and use of words. It seems easy, when we refer to a writer’s style, to assume that as soon as anyone starts writing, they immediately adopt their personal style and that’s it.

Child writing Of course it’s hardly that simple. Personal style is something that develops over a period of time- like the way children grow. The five year old shows only the tantalising whisp of the promise of the adult they will become. Professor Winston, in his documentary series of ‘7 up’, ‘14 up’ and so on tried to demonstrate how the adult-to-be was clearly present in the child, and in as much as he could indicate certain traits in  them, but it was very much down to the experiences they had and the opportunities that came their way that shaped their future. It’s the old nature/nurture argument. We have latent abilities  but we have to do something with them to develop them into skills, so writing style doesn’t automatically flow from the first piece of prose we write, it grows from practice and experimentation.

How to?

Trial and error, experimentation and repetition, and wide reading help, but in the end it will be down to time, volume and feedback that will ultimately develop the style you stick with – how you feel about it, how well it delivers the message you want to give, and whether your readers get that same satisfaction and understanding from reading it in that format. That is where writing exercises and prompts and subsequent feedback and critique has most value.

To play around with possible forms, look at a variety of writing styles amongst well-known authors – the flowing-thought style of Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar , the densely descriptive and somewhat turgid style of Hilary Mantel (Bring up the Bodies), the pacy style of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine (most recent – The Child’s Child)  or the almost conversational style of Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending). These are just a few ideas – pick a favourite author, or a new one you’ve not read before – or one that is a current award winner – of the Costa etc. Now, try out writing in their style and see how it fits with you. Take any piece of prose – it can just be taken from a newspaper article, if you like, and write it in the style you’ve chosen.  How does it fit with you? Are you happy writing in that style? How have you instinctively modified it? Do you like reading that style of prose?

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Now turn it around and take a section from one of their books and try paraphrasing it into your words. What comes out the other end? It will almost invariably be the style you instinctively slip into and that will form a basis for how you style your future writing, although you may adopt several styles depending on the work you are doing at the time. For instance essays and academic articles will almost certainly have a more literary and formal style, magazine articles more conversational and fiction may have any style you like to adopt as long as it melds with the genre you are writing in. After that, it is a case of write, write, and write, and you will hone your style more and more; and invite feedback and positive criticism whenever you can.

Do not take criticism personally; take it as a means to improvement, after all, the most successful style – however it is formed – is the one a reader wants to read.

Follow me on Twitter @Storytellerdeb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DebbieMartin. Author

Website: http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk

Interview with an author – Jodie Pierce
February 4, 2013

Well all – having done some interviews for others I thought it was time to introduce my blog readers to some of the great authors I’ve been meeting along the way and to kick off , please meet Jodie Pierce who so kindly featured me on her blog spot on the 19th January.

This is what Jodie has to say:

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   Tell me a bit about yourself: Well, I am from Cleveland, Ohio and am married to the most dedicated,

supportive and loving man that’s ever come into my life. I have been writing since I was in high school but

the stories were too simple and you could tell I wasn’t inspired while writing it. Once I read the Anne Rice

vampire series, I was inspired and realized that I wanted to write about vampires. I was introduced to

vampires as a child and I fell in love with them and grew up with them. I am also a researcher and was an

exchange student in high school to Brasil so you will find many of my experiences in my stories.  I am a

seven time published author. Five of my books have been published through a publishing house. The other

two have been self published and all are available on Amazon.com.

Tell me about your latest book: My latest book is the final instalment of my Vampire Queen trilogy. It ties up the first two books, has action, twists and turns and vampires.

Where is your book available? My book will be available from November 1st on Amazon.com both in paperback and Kindle formats.

Where you live and one thing you love about it: I live in Cleveland, Ohio but I also lived in Brasil for six months when I was 16 and very impressionable. Brasil is so beautiful and the people are kind, generous, friendly and unjudgemental. The country is beautiful as I live two blocks from the beach. It is a third world country and I saw a lot of poverty but even they are kind. That was my favourite place to live and would go back there and live there for forever if given the opportunity.

Website: www.thevampirequeen1.weebly.com & www.thevampirequeen1.blogspot.com

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? My parents were always good readers and I picked up the hobby from them. I just started writing short stories about my life, moved to romantic fiction and then was inspired to write about vampires. After years of trying to get published, I was finally introduced to publishing houses and later on, self-publishing. I was estatic to see my stories come to life and to be able to share with others.

Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned were the first books to inspire me. I then read Anne Rices’ erotic novels and found that I could also write stories that were similar though I preferred the vampire romance genre.

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What was the seed of inspiration for your latest book? My book, The Vampire Queen was my first and favourite

manuscript. I wanted to reunite her and her lover and take them on an adventure. I deliberately left the second book, The

Vampire Chronicles open for a third book. I then decided I wanted to tie up the events so I wrote the final book, Demise of

the Vampire to do that.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? I would want them to fall in love with the vampires I’ve created like I have. I also want readers to understand that bi-sexuality is okay to have as a part of their lives.

 What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Marketing and promoting have been the thorn in my side. Even with the publishing company, the marketing was left up to me.

What has been your best moment as a writer? The best moment was when I got the email stating they wanted to publish my book. Nine months before, I had sent my manuscript to them and they refused it. The, Twilight broke out and I resubmitted it to them upon the request of my hubby. They took it and when I read the email, I thought someone was messing with me. It turned out to be real and I was really excited

Who is your author idol? Anne Rice is my first idol. J.K. Rowling is a close second but she doesn’t write about vampires which is unfortunate. Christopher Paolini gave me inspiration for fantasy and the Anne Rampling series encouraged me to write the one erotic book I wrote as well.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Absolutely. Most of my characters are based on the people that have come into my life in many different ways. Sometimes, just their personality or physical traits are included in my characters.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Well, my dream of being published has come true but there is always more for me to write and publish. I am constantly learning more about myself, my writing and marketing. I’ve met some great people along my journey and am grateful for everything and everyone I’ve come in contact with. The website people are always awesome, friendly and helpful.

What is your personal cure for procrastination? I don’t have a cure as I don’t procrastinate. I wake up in the morning, sometimes at 5am just to write or check my emails for others’ comments, etc.

What does your workspace look like? I used to write on a desk that was full of papers and sticky notes but it was uncomfortable. Now I work in my recliner and my computer on my lap. It’s much more comfortable and instead of sticky notes I use a notebook to keep track of things.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? Absolutely! Fear of rejection can cause many authors to give up and quit their dreams. Also, as in my case, I’ve typed for so long that I now have Carpal Tunnel and have to limit my typing each day which just kills me. I have to write and I enjoy it so it’s very hard to stifle my creativeness. I’ve started writing ideas down in that notebook I mentioned so I can write a little more later.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? I have never wanted to quit. Rejection at first made me feel horrible but as time went on, I learned it’s all part of the process and can brush it off as it comes along.

What do you do when you’re not writing? I like to spend time watching TV with my hubby, reading is good too. I usually have two books I’m reading at the same time which can get a little confusing if the books don’t grip you and force you into the stories.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Write what you want, not what you think publishers want. Write from your heart and the creative juices flow more easily. Jump in with both feet and bring your ideas to life through your writing.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school? In high school, I had a great English teacher, Mrs. Israel who encouraged my writing and often critiqued my stories. She taught me to keep going and never give up.

Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? I wrote in high school but when I started writing about vampires, I knew that was my calling. While writing my first book, I found every aspect of it to be fun and that reinforced the idea that writing was exactly what I needed.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Never give up and support your fellow authors. You can learn a lot from them and it will make you a better writer. If I gave up every time I was rejected, I wouldn’t be published. Take the bull by the hands and make your career what you want it to be.

I’m delighted to share other authors views with you – if anyone has a short story or poem they would like to share, please let me know and I would be happy too see if we could feature it on here – it may be your first step to publication yourself …

Until next time,

Debbie Martin

debbie@debbiemartin.co.uk

http://www.debbiemartin.co.uk/

also on:

Twitter @Storytellerdeb

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