I’ve always thought of style as personal decisions about fashion.Which trends to follow? How much or little of the trends to follow? Classic. Retro. Fads. Who to listen to–Vogue?–Elle? So many choices: sweaters, shorts, shoes, earrings, hair, lip colors. . .
Wait, where was this going? Oh, right–Style.
In writing, I think of style as being my personal writing wardrobe. On the first draft, I just try to knock the storyline out. Who, what, when, where, why and how. There are even gaps in that when I declare the first draft done. The fun for me is in the revision.
I know, some people write beautifully on their first draft. I secretly hate them.
When I have a basic story I go back through it several times to work on images and style. This isn’t that unusual–lots of writers do this.
One of the things I try to notice is the sentence fluency. Long and short. Variety in the beginning words. Sentence structure matches the meaning and emotion. Artistic sentences that add depth through simile and metaphor or repetition.
I’m reading a YA book right now (Heist Society by Ally Carter–very fun by the way) that has a lot of examples that make the sentences interesting to read. Sometimes they enhance the story. Sometimes they deepen a character. Here’s an example:
Hale (very cute, rich boy) is talking to Katrina (protagonist, long time friend of Hale)
“That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.”
•The author used hyperbole to show us the playful nature of their relationship.
Here’s another example of style in a conversation between Kat and her uncle (Their family has had a little falling out, and things are still awkward.)
“I’m here,” Kat said in a softer voice.
She didn’t say, I can hear you.
She didn’t tell him, I came home.
She didn’t promise, I’m not going anywhere.
•In this passage, the author uses a parallel sentence structure for the three sentence to simulate pleading, and the paragraph spaces between sentences to enhance the isolation the main character is feeling.
Style is the way an author uses sentence structure and meaning together. It’s the intention and expression of meaning that makes the sentences memorable. It’s the sentences that make the reading natural. Style looks and sounds right.
Style in writing separates one great story from hundreds of good ones.
Like Yves Saint Laurent said,“Fashions fade, style is eternal.”