Aspiring writers often want to develop their own writing style, though their efforts to make themselves sound unique often backfire. Novice writers frequently use long words and sentences, unnecessary adverbs, and overall err on the side of excess rather than conciseness. Readers, especially in this day and age, tend to be more impressed with brevity (“the soul of wit”) and will quickly become alienated from a writer who seems turgid or prolix. Here, Partridge Singapore presents tips on developing your own personal writing style while avoiding many of the pitfalls and mistakes that other beginning writers make.
- Ernest Hemingway
Imitate the writers that you like
First, Partridge Singapore advises you to imitate authors that you admire. Most people have a few favorite writers. These are the people whose writing grabs you at the start with a great hook and keeps you turning the pages. Analyze their writing. Try to figure out what it is that works for these authors, and practice writing in the same fashion. It doesn’t need to be too much at first. Just start with a few paragraphs, perhaps opening lines for stories in several different genres, and you can write more later, after you get a feel for your own style.
Use strong and descriptive verbs
Use active verbs. Verbs like “to be” and “to have” are very weak forms. Instead of saying, Jenny is a dancer,” try “Jenny works as a dancer at…” In place of, “John has German Shepherds.” Use John breeds German Shepherds.” or “John raises German Shepherds.”
Descriptive verbs also make your writing sound much more interesting and readable. Mice don’t “run”, they “scurry”, for example. Being able to use these verbs amply and judiciously will provide opportunities to inject humour and other elements into your writing.
Avoid polysyllabic words when possible
While knowing how to use the right word remains an art, knowing long words is no longer impressive for most readers. Saying that a character is “pusillanimous” instead of “cowardly” will frustrate most readers. Hemingway was a master of simple language, and Steinbeck is similar in this regard.
Refrain from long sentences
Lengthy or “periodic” sentence structures were popular in the 18th century, though the modern age certainly believes that shorter is better. The English language, unlike some others, finds long sentences difficult to handle, and the result is that readers mentally “run out of breath”! The final tip from Partridge Singapore (for now): When in doubt, separate a long sentence into two. Don’t use a semi-colon when you can use a period.
Partridge Singapore trusts this helps
We at Partridge Singapore know full well that developing your own style is one of the highest hurdles in your career as a writer. Stay tuned for more tips on this subject and other guidance from Partridge Singapore that will help you on your self-publishing journey to authorship. Make sure to check out our site here.