December Writers Tool Box: Style

Last month we discussed ‘Voice’. This month we discussed ‘style’. It seems Style is often confused with Voice. How did we differentiate between the two? We decided: Voice is story; writer is style.

The first question we should ask ourselves, as writers, is: What is the purpose of this?  This applies to everything – story, chapter, paragraph, dialogue, sentence, words. Style enables us to state that purpose in the way we need to for the benefit of the story/chapter/scene/sentence.

Style is about the sentences – the words, the rhythm, the feel. Every sentence has a task. That task needs to be expressed in one of five modes: action, exposition, description, dialogue or internalisation. Its rhythm should convey the meaning of the words.  Imagine a train, then imagine how to make sure you express the rhythm of that train:  choo, choo, choo (match that beat). Read it out aloud to see if you get the rhythm.

Words allow the sentence to be a precise expression of meaning. Choose each word carefully. Use strong verbs and strong nouns appropriate for the purpose of each sentence. Use strong adjectives – if they contribute to the noun.

Put simply: the right words, in the right place, in a sentence structured to capture that moment – that’s style.

The style should suit the particular moment in the story. It will change with each character’s Point of View, providing variation to hold the reader’s attention. Strong sentences will evoke the reader’s feelings and arouse their senses – hear, see, smell, touch, taste (and emotional impact). Entice them to continue reading.

Isn’t that what every writer wants?


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