What is your style?

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Sheepy-Pie

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What is your style?
« on: July 10, 2016, 06:02:39 AM »
This is a question I've wondered about myself. When I'm reading my favourite author, if I was given something she'd written but I didn't know it I'd know it was her because of her style.

How do you figure out what your style is? I know I have the annoying frequency to start a sentence with a few words then comma it and continue. Example;

Quote
Lifting my head, I noticed that this wasn’t outside, nor was it dark.
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With a firm push, he forced me across to the building until I was inside.
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Dizzy, I collapsed down to the floor gasping, I could feel my consciousness slipping as breathlessness took over.

Perhaps I'm just a comma fiend. I do try to catch myself when I do it though.

I know the most obvious thing right now is that I write in first rather than third which I think can throw people off, or at least I worry about it. When I pick up fantasy books they have always been in third. I hoping it's just a style choice rather than writing in first doesn't make it...

Or maybe I'm just missing the point entirely :P what makes your writing yours in terms of style

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kherezae

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2016, 12:29:07 PM »
Oh, what a tricky subject! I don't think I know anyone's style well enough to recognize it out of context. I'm not sure of my own style, either, outside the fact that I write close POVs and focus on physiological details of emotion.

Now, recognizing that something clearly isn't one of my favorite authors' styles -- that's another story!

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Elena

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2017, 09:12:50 AM »
I received critics to my novel to be launched on 23-rd of March. And I am happy. Of course, it isn't because the critic (who is in general a harsh person even to known authors) was too kind or too laudative. But he found that I make the same mistakes like Victor Hugo, Shakespeare and a few other classics I love. He might have meant it for bad. I am extatic, because these are the writers I love and I am glad if I can be compared to them.




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Lucas

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2017, 04:59:37 AM »
To some extent, I am probably more affected by sci fi authors like Banks and Reynolds than by fantasy authors. In general, however, since I am usually writing with a strong POV, I tell my segments in the voices of my characters.

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HSCook

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 07:30:08 PM »
I have a tendency to be verbose; not always a bad thing but likewise not always good. I also have a rather formulaic manner of writing that can present as dry or stilted but is also in keeping with the era in which I write.

Beyond that, I write in third person past on a spectrum between objective and limited. I have dabbled in omniscient—it is seldom written well but works wonders when it is—but find my focus is better served on an alternative PoV handled with objective for the wider and slower-paced descriptions towards limited with the faster-paced and emotional parts. I tend to lean towards to the objective end of the spectrum, preferring to show more than linger inside a head.
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JayLee

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2017, 12:11:08 PM »
Ohhh.... this question. So many things to say, but not sure how to say them. Style is hard to pin down.

So, I like to think of a writer's voice as the place they sit most comfortably. It's what comes naturally to them. Practically, it should be the way they think/speak. (Of course, it will make a little more coherent sense on the page, because humans are generally a mess when speaking). The point being with this, a writer's voice is like an artist's style. You don't, and shouldn't, have to go out of your way to find it. It was there the first moment you started writing. Even as writing quality improves, the style/voice should still be present in a base form.

In fact, if an author is going out of their way to write like someone else, or to use a certain style they think will sell better in their genre, things can get bad. Like if an author who's not particularly pre-disposed to humor is trying to mimic a Disney sit-com style, or someone's trying to use an overly charming "look how clever" voice rather than just writing. When I edit/beta, I can often spot those falsities, because the author will slip back into a much more natural flow from time to time. Forced styles have a tendency to sound very fake.

Now, you have to keep in mind that a "narrative voice" can, and maybe should change a little. Which is where things get complicated. Especially if the book is close narration or 1st person, the character's voice may need to come out a little. But I find overall, once again, the base style should still be there. And I do think our voice changes a little as we age, or experience, or read more. But as long as that voice is still the author's... golden.

And I mentioned briefly above that the writing quality can definitely improve and leave style intact. Just like in drawing. An artist can get better at different aspects and details, but there is something uniquely them about the art (practice, practice, practice with all craft is key!). There's nothing worse than that one editor/beta who goes through your entire manuscript and rewrites it in their own voice. "Oh, it would sound better if you worded it like this!" (And don't get me started on people who over-correct the flow and grammar in dialogue). On the other hand, there is the astute editor who can identify areas that are problematic as far as grammar, comprehension, etc. goes, but leave the fixing up to the author so they can retain their style. When I find that sort of editor to work with, I hug them and say "Never leave me!"

I think editing can really help a writer learn to identify style. They're seeing it in someone else's work. If one pays attention to it, they begin to feel the flow of it and can recognize if an author stays consistent. It can also help when it comes to seeing how writing quality can be improved while staying true to the voice.

So, I think it comes down to not sweating style. It's not something you dig up and alter to perfect. It's you. That's what makes all authors unique.

That was a long post, and I don't know if it made sense or answered the original question at all... :)
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HSCook

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2017, 10:35:08 PM »
That was a long post, and I don't know if it made sense or answered the original question at all...
But what is your style?

Loved your thoughts but where would ghostwriters fall into this. People can excel at sounding like someone else and capturing that person's voice instead of their own.
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JayLee

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2017, 11:21:08 PM »
Quote from: JayLee on Today at 12:11:08 PM
That was a long post, and I don't know if it made sense or answered the original question at all...
But what is your style?

Loved your thoughts but where would ghostwriters fall into this. People can excel at sounding like someone else and capturing that person's voice instead of their own.

Haha, yeah I didn't talk about that, I guess. The original question mostly pertained to how one identifies/finds their style, so I guess that's what I was thinking about :) I don't know much about ghost writing (but I want to know more!) but many ghost writers' do excel at mimic, and I also think there are moments where it doesn't quite work. Like reading something like Nancy Drew... sometimes something just feels really, really different. But a master writer should be able to re-create something.

As far as my own style goes, pretty much this: mildly wordy, nigh on archaic, and borderline florid. :)
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ScribblerKat

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2017, 01:38:10 AM »
My style has been heavily influenced by Cecilia Holland and Stephen King. It's plain-Jane writing, no high-flown language, no interesting metaphors, no poetry. I go lightly through narrative, use deep 3rd person POV a lot, and focus on character interaction.
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Rohierim

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2017, 09:07:36 PM »
I'm not sure I could describe my "style." I try and let the story depict how I'm going to write it. First person vs. Third Person, etc. I do tend to stay away from First Person as I've only found a handful of authors who can write in the First person and not make me want to scoop my own eyes out with a spoon. I will dabble in it though to see if I don't end up doing that same thing with my writing. The style I've liked over the last few stories is what I would consider a "close 3rd person present tense." If any of you have read him, it is very similar (at least in my head) to Chuck Wendig. I'm a fan of his work, and I decided to try and write a story in that tense and just watched as the words flew across the page. Haven't had that much fun for a while.

So not sure how to describe a "style" but at the moment, that tense would be what suits my fancy at the moment.

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Sheepy-Pie

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2017, 09:47:37 AM »
I do tend to stay away from First Person as I've only found a handful of authors who can write in the First person and not make me want to scoop my own eyes out with a spoon.

What don't you like about it? Anything, even if it's silly. A lot of people say they don't like first person but never explain why, so I can never really focus on what to improve to make mine good, which is why I jump on anyone who talks about it! I want to be able to write in first as best as I can.

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JayLee

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2017, 10:43:58 AM »
I do tend to stay away from First Person as I've only found a handful of authors who can write in the First person and not make me want to scoop my own eyes out with a spoon.

What don't you like about it? Anything, even if it's silly. A lot of people say they don't like first person but never explain why, so I can never really focus on what to improve to make mine good, which is why I jump on anyone who talks about it! I want to be able to write in first as best as I can.

I'm curious about what you don't like as well @Rohierim. I mean, I've read a few things that just don't feel right in first person, but "scoop my own eyes out" bad? I feel like it can be fairly well done, especially by "learning" writers as a starting point. It must be somewhat easy for people to use a personal tone and sound pretty natural. Though, where I begin to run into trouble with first person personally is first person present tense. That can tend to sound incredibly stilted if a lot of work isn't put into it. But I feel like that's universal to present tense. Style aside (as I have nothing wrong with first person as a voice) I find I don't often like the subject matter of books in first as often, and I don't know why. Maybe because my favorite genre isn't really dominated by first person narratives. That or because a majority of the time I read first person, the narrator tends to be an angsty teen, or mildly angsty someone, and I don't need to be right inside someone's angst for the whole book, nor are teens usually my favorite characters.
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HSCook

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2017, 01:38:35 PM »
I do tend to stay away from First Person as I've only found a handful of authors who can write in the First person and not make me want to scoop my own eyes out with a spoon.

What don't you like about it? Anything, even if it's silly. A lot of people say they don't like first person but never explain why, so I can never really focus on what to improve to make mine good, which is why I jump on anyone who talks about it! I want to be able to write in first as best as I can.

I find that very few people manage first person well.

The biggest issue I have is the MC. Different people inherently like different characters. Having such a close perspective immediately alienates a proportion of readers. The problems with the MC vary. Usually they are irritating or, because they are also the narrator, there is little development. They can present as whiny or unrelatable all too easily. They just aren't compelling. They miss things as well, or pay more attention than a person naturally would. Either way, it feels wrong and breaks immersion. The balance is very fine.

This touches on another key issue for me. The close perspective and defined voice limits the amount of imagination it inspires. I can't see the world through my own eyes. I am forced to look through the MCs. Even with close third, I can look beyond just that character.

The development of other characters is also often neglected. Or it feels that way because you only see them from that single perspective.

I also find that the changes the MC goes through throughout the book are clunky. They either make little sense, are too fast, or are nonexistent. Again, the balance is really fine. First person is an incredibly unforgiving point-of-view. It leaves no room for error, inference or ambiguity. As Roheirim said, there are only a handful who get it right on novel length work. I have found many shorts, however, that I've loved in first. I think it's down to how long you are in that limited view and that single head.

Another issue for me is when the author uses first person for something that would work far better in third. They choose the POV for the wrong reasons (following trends/just felt like it/wanted to do something different) and it does their story, which could well be amazing, a disservice. An authors voice can some through no matter what person or tense is used. The decision for which perspective to use should not be taken on a whim.

A challenge I do with new projects, which really helps, is to take a chapter, often the first, and write it again in different views so that you have a first/present (kill me now—never read an example of this that I could bear but it does appeal to the current female teen market), first/past, third limited/past, subjective omniscient/past and objective omniscient/past. I find that the last two tend to merge into a spectrum rather than having separate versions (zooming in and out as needed). Add others as you wish, but second has a very distinct place in CYOA books and third present has a very surreal feel and is best reserved for short works, dreams, prose and poetry rather than novel length work.

Then look at how that chapter works in each view. Ask for other opinions. First person is often not the best choice for the support for to it's restrictions and inadaptability.
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ScribblerKat

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2017, 04:38:35 PM »
This touches on another key issue for me. The close perspective and defined voice limits the amount of imagination it inspires. I can't see the world through my own eyes. I am forced to look through the MCs. Even with close third, I can look beyond just that character.

The development of other characters is also often neglected. Or it feels that way because you only see them from that single perspective.

I knew I didn't care for first person, but I hadn't given any thought as to why. But HSCook has nailed it on the head for me. (Thanks!)

That also answers a question that's been bugging me. I recently recalled that two out of the five short stories in my fantasy anthology are written in first person, which is embarrassing for someone who doesn't care for it. But I believe the already-restricted form of the short story is a good platform for first person, as it can be more intense. So I'll concede that.
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Rohierim

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Re: What is your style?
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2017, 07:31:54 PM »
What don't you like about it? Anything, even if it's silly. A lot of people say they don't like first person but never explain why, so I can never really focus on what to improve to make mine good, which is why I jump on anyone who talks about it! I want to be able to write in first as best as I can.

I'm curious about what you don't like as well @Rohierim. I mean, I've read a few things that just don't feel right in first person, but "scoop my own eyes out" bad? I feel like it can be fairly well done, especially by "learning" writers as a starting point. It must be somewhat easy for people to use a personal tone and sound pretty natural. Though, where I begin to run into trouble with first person personally is first person present tense. That can tend to sound incredibly stilted if a lot of work isn't put into it. But I feel like that's universal to present tense. Style aside (as I have nothing wrong with first person as a voice) I find I don't often like the subject matter of books in first as often, and I don't know why. Maybe because my favorite genre isn't really dominated by first person narratives. That or because a majority of the time I read first person, the narrator tends to be an angsty teen, or mildly angsty someone, and I don't need to be right inside someone's angst for the whole book, nor are teens usually my favorite characters.

I think people both asked questions of me and partly answered before I even got to see any responses to my questions. :D I need to find more time to spend online than I allow myself now. :D

To answer your questions, I'll try and add some personal references to why I stated I do not like first person. HSCook does a great job of going into a more detailed reason a lot of people may not like first person especially in a technical sense. I'll keep my answer more why I dislike first person, because some of you asked. :D

First, looking at the stories that I enjoy. The easiest way to describe that is through movies and not books. I find movies easier to find common ground than books as there are fewer mainstream movies to reference than there are books. Whenever I'm looking for a story to read if I have my choice I look for a story that will give me the same feeling that I get when watching either of the following movies:

Rambo
300
Spartacus (The show not the movie)

What do these movies have in common for me? Tense situations that put the main characters in dire situations where I can honestly say I don't know who is going to survive and who won't.

When it comes to novels, I expect and want that same feeling. So the first strike for 1st person is that there is never a reason for me to fear for the narrator. If the narrator was dead then I wouldn't be hearing them tell me the story. I did read one set of novels that did the whole "I've actually been dead the whole time" trick and though the story was well written I kind of dropped it in my mind because of what felt like a cheesy way to "kill" off the main character as a surprise ending.

Because there is no reason to ever fear for the narrator (first strike), this forces the writer to make extremely compelling side characters that I must really enjoy and then that writer must put them in jeapordy or again there is no reason that would keep me reading.

So as a reader, I want to be left turning pages wondering who is going to die and when. First person takes almost all of the tension out of the story for me, leaving me rather bored and hoping to go to my next book.

The second part would come from what HSCook references.
Voice
Almost all novels that I have read in first person have a narrators voice that makes me contemplate Jokering myself with any available sharpened pencil and a desk. (Watch the batman with Heath Ledger if you don't get the reference, it's a great movie) There tends to be too many instances of internal dialogue, too much telling me what the character feels instead of showing, and for gods sakes most of the time the character changes because there is a belief that all characters must "change" before the end. HSCook hits it on the head. Almost all the books I read that are 1st person feel stunted and the change comes because it "has" to.

Best 1st person books I've read?

Mark Lawrence
Rick Riordan

Both are in first person. Both main characters have incredible voices that are both not annoying yet tell the story in a way that prevents you from really ever falling into the fact that you are in the character's heads. Part of me thinks that since newer writers take the advice of "being in their character's head" too extreme in 1st person. In third person I find that is good. Makes for added depth and believable story flow. In 1st person you are already in the characters head. 1st person is already a step farther away from the story than third person, making me stay in their head even longer just drives me away.

So in a very tired typing nut shell, this is why. Too much internal dialogue. Need a voice that can actually carry for 200-400 pages. Secondary character development is more important than narrator as they are the only ones to care about. All the reasons I kind of stay away from first person as a writer as I do a reader.

Thanks,

Roh