How to Be a Writer: Lesson 4 – Develop Your Own Style

How to Be a Writer: Lesson 4 - Develop Your Own StyleThink about your favorite author. What is it that keeps you coming back to that person’s books? Perhaps you enjoy the type of stories the author tells. Or the books feature a recurring character you like. Perhaps you like the way the author uses language or the types of scenes that appear in that person’s stories. In short, you like the author’s style.

Successful authors develop a distinctive style. You know what to expect when you pick up that author’s book, just as you know what to expect when you buy a computer, a meal, or clothing from a certain company. An author’s style is that person’s branding.

You’ll also find that developing a style will make it easier for you to write. You can get into a mindset that helps you come up with new ideas for stories. You’ll also build a loyal following of readers who enjoy your style and can’t wait to read your next book.

How do you develop your own style? It takes time, practice, and a little trial and error. To get started in developing your own style, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What books do you want to read? Write the books that you would want to buy yourself. This stirs the passion you need to write your books. You also become familiar with the rules and expectations of your genre.
  • What experiences can you bring to your stories? Perhaps you worked an unusual job, or your family immigrated from another country, or you or a family member overcame an illness. Your experiences can be a great source for your stories.
  • What would you like readers to know about you? Do you love chocolate? Do you have strong religious or political beliefs? Do you like dirty jokes? By sharing yourself through your writing, your readers can pick up on your personality. That builds a connection between you and your readers and helps open you up to write.

Developing your own style means being yourself and letting that self show through your writing. There are several techniques you can use to make your writing your own.

  • Write the story as if you were telling it to someone in person. Some writers feel that they have to use formal language with long words and complex sentences because they are committing their story to text. Instead, look at text as an extension of your spoken storytelling. Let the words flow naturally from you, and use words that you would use in your everyday conversation. Read the story aloud to make sure the writing fits your style.
  • Add personal touches. You can set your stories in the town where you grew up. Perhaps a car or a pet you had when you were younger makes an appearance. You can also add subtle personal touches, like those references to the famous classroom A113. Look for small details that put your personality into a story.
  • Develop an overarching theme. Your stories are your messages to the world. What message do you want to give? You may believe that hardships can be overcome through honest work and persistence. Or you may believe the world is essentially corrupt, and the only way a decent person can do what is right is to break the rules. Use whatever theme you choose as the basis for your stories. Each story can show a different aspect of that theme.

Most importantly, develop your own style by being a leader, not a follower. If everyone is writing a zombie apocalypse novel with a vampire/werewolf love triangle, don’t write one. If everyone is emulating John Green, it’s because John Green developed his own distinctive writing style. Find your own. You can be inspired by other writers, but don’t copy them.

Write the stories you want to write and you would want to buy. Show your personality through your work, and let each story express your message to the world. Be yourself — that’s how to be a writer. Good luck with your writing!