Advertising
Advertising

Writing Tip: Develop Your Style

Writing Tip: Develop Your Style
Writing Style

The thing people will remember about what you write isn’t the concepts behind your work. When you read a story, it’s not the characters or the plot that really defines your enjoyment of the tale. No: the most important part of writing is the way in which you write – your style. You can have a marvelous concept for a piece, try to put it to paper, and still have it fall apart as you proceed. On the other hand, you can take a monotonous idea, one that’s been used to death, and still create a masterpiece. The difference between great – or at the very least, good – writing and poor copywork has all to do with your individual style.

Advertising

Developing your style isn’t something you can follow a strict set of rules for. There’s no one “right” style; your own style is really just a compilation of the things you’re comfortable writing about and methods you use to write. Some people have a very flowery, flowing writing style. Others write in short bursts of thought and focus entirely on the main points of what they write. You could be either, or – most likely – you fall somewhere in between with your style. What matters isn’t learning a style, but finding your own style and developing it.

Though there’s no one definitive guide to mastering a style, here are a few tips that might help you along.

Advertising

Most people write in the same way they talk. People who don’t use big words while talking to their friends tend not to use big words when they write. Sarcastic people are more prone to writing sarcastically. It’s not always exact, but if you try to write in a drastically different tone of voice than you speak in, there’s a greater chance of your writing sounding hashed-up and not genuine. Try reading what you write aloud once in a while: does it feel comfortable speaking it? If not, try to figure out how to write it in the manner you would normally speak.

Advertising

Don’t write about things you don’t know about. If you try to write about political drama, for instance, without having been involved in political affairs (or the equivalent, even if it’s something like student government in college), there’s a chance that you will sound either forced or just completely infactual. Writers who handle complex, detailed worlds they’re not familiar with tend to familiarize themselves with what they’re writing about before they begin writing. (Tom Clancy comes to mind here.) If you aren’t comfortable with what you’re writing, it will show clearly in your writing style.

Advertising

Likewise, if you don’t feel good with particular techniques, avoid them. A popular essay-writing method involves providing a contrary argument to a subject, followed by a counterargument. While it’s a useful technique, and one that adds credibility to your thesis, too many writers try just sticking out an argument, then rehashing the same facts they have already presented, which seems unorganized rather than effective. Similarly, quite a few creative writers tend to borrow from popular authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien or Douglas Adams, emulating them rather than using their techniques along with others. Often, the end result is a work that appears derivative, rather than a story that can stand on its own.

Developing a style is all about familiarity. If you focus on what you know, and if you try to write in the manner that you feel most comfortable rather than copying others, you should have no problem developing a unique style that others can recognize and enjoy as your own.

Rory Marinich is a graduate of the New Jersey Governor’s School of the Arts. Some of his writing can be found online here.

More by this author

Six Ways to Start the Writing Process Eccentric Tips for Becoming Productive Six Lies About Creative Writing You Should Never Believe Writing Tip: Develop Your Style Nine Tips to Productive Revision

Trending in Communication

1The Gentle Art of Saying No 217 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 310 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of 4Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 5Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

Advertising

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

Advertising

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

Advertising

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Advertising

Read Next