Some Thoughts on Style

Sorry for the absence! I have a really stressful, demanding job and last week was brutal. After hours commitments three days out of five, resulting in a decreased will to live.

On-topic, my prose is somewhat spare. I suspect this is related to my job because the overwhelming majority of what I do is speech writing and my boss’s slogan is “short and to the point.” Speech writing and fiction writing are different animals, but some inclinations carry.

This leaves me with an “active” style. More dialogue and movement than narrative because my instinct is to package information as cleanly as possible. Why use ten words when five will do?

As a reader, I don’t dislike a denser style. My favorite novel (Brideshead Revisited) is very narrative-heavy. But it’s not how I write. I could write paragraph after paragraph of lush prose, but it would be unnatural and self-conscious. It isn’t me.

I’m going to be unromantic here: writing is a craft, not a gift. Some people are natural storytellers, but writing is a skill. You master the mechanics and then, through practice, develop your own style. It’s why I’m so big on the nuts and bolts – you can’t build on a weak foundation.

Being able to put together a story doesn’t mean you can write. It just means you have the potential to be able to write. To bridge the gap, you have to work. And somewhere in there, along the way, you’ll find a voice to go with it.


Any thoughts?

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