Great writers aren’t just good with words. They have their own way of conveying a story or an idea. Their way of communicating through writing is what makes their writing style. But how do you create your unique way of expression? Here are eight tips to help you find your voice and stand apart from the crowd.
What is a writing style?
A writing style is defined by how an author presents an idea through his words. The writer’s way of communicating includes elements of writing such as tone and voice.
What is the tone?
Tone is the overall feeling that the author’s words convey. More than words, tone shows the writer’s preference for sentence structure, literary techniques, word choice, and grammar. It dictates the feeling you have while reading a piece of writing. In parallel, if you are the writer, your mood at the moment of writing can determine your literary creation’s tone.
What is the voice?
Voice shows the writer’s personality. It is set by the tone and all its elements but also by the author’s point of view, whether the work is fictional or not. In the case of a novel, an author might have multiple voices between his own, the characters, and the narrator.
We can now see how the writing style is closely related to the writer’s personality and perspective. So, let’s explore some ways to create your style.
1. Use your reality as inspiration
What distinguishes two perspectives in writing is the author’s own reality. Different life experiences make different stories. Consequently, you should draw on your personal experiences for inspiration in your writing. Think about real people you have encountered throughout your life, emotions you have felt, and events that were important to you. Plus, in this current AI-driven era, you, as a creative human, are advantaged by your thoughts and life experiences. So, use that advantage and make your style unique and recognizable by recalling memories from your reality.
2. Read others, but don’t copy
The best way to distinguish different writing styles is by reading the work of other authors, but don’t limit yourself to your favorite writers. It would be best to read unfamiliar authors to develop your ability to detect different writing elements in multiple styles. Avoid imitating your favorite author’s style, though, and only focus on the storytelling techniques employed with word choice and overall structure.
3. Use the power of words
Choose powerful words. Whether you choose one word over another has a substantial impact on your reader’s engagement. Words can easily trigger an emotional response if used correctly. Recent studies have found that words can change the brain and affect a person’s feelings and perception of events. That is where word choice comes into play. Power words will change your reader’s experience, so choose them wisely.
Here is an exhaustive list of power words to inspire you.
4. Observe your surroundings
Just like your life experiences can make unique stories, your everyday surroundings have the potential to become great ideas. Observational writing will not only enhance your style but also improve your writing skills. Once you start paying attention to the mundane activities around you, it will become easier to come up with ideas. For example, try going to a nearby park or a café with only a notepad and a pen, and write down every detail you see around you. What are the people around looking like? Listen to their conversations. What are they saying? Soon enough, you’ll have a list of observations waiting for you to turn into ideas for your writing.
This exercise was my tip #5 on how to beat writer’s block in this article, and it remains my go-to tip to generate new ideas.
Here are some tips from bestselling author David Sedaris to help you start your observations.
5. Break the rules
You should learn basic writing principles at the beginning of your writing career. Then, once you get some experience and discover your preferences, you shouldn’t be afraid to leave out what doesn’t suit you. Most writing rules have exceptions, as no exact science can cover all writing types, purposes, or target audiences. Remember that your writing style defines you; no rule can contradict your personality.
6. Engage your reader’s senses
Remember how words can change your brain? Sensory words can also activate a different part of the brain than ordinary words. Just as much as power words will trigger an emotional response, the use of descriptive language will make your reader feel your story by experiencing it with all five senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, and smell. Next time you write something, think about the noise in the background, the lingering scent of a perfume, the texture of a soft cashmere scarf, the bright colors of your favorite painting, and the rich taste of coffee in the morning. Make your reader remember your scene as vividly as possible, and your style will become memorable.
7. Adapt your style
Discovering your writing style doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adapt to different types of writing. It all depends on the purpose you are writing for. For example, if you write an informational article, your tone will differ from the one you use in a fantasy novel. Always remember what purpose your writing serves and your target audience, so you can easily switch styles while maintaining your distinctive voice.
8. Make it a habit
Practice makes perfect, and writing is no different. As much as you take the time to read others, you should also spare time daily to practice your craft. The habit of daily writing will not only help develop your writing skills but will also make it easier for you to find your style after exploring different writing elements.
Practice, Observe, Repeat
There is no shortcut to finding your voice as a writer. You will always have something to develop and improve in your craft as long as you write. The key is to embrace the journey and remember your goal of becoming a better writer. When you look back at your first written piece and see your evolution, you’ll be proud of your achievements!