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Writing it With Style

Updated on July 14, 2011

The problem with writing style is its’ subjective and defining it is hard to grasp for some. Different readers have varying ideas about what style is. Take the following paragraph as an illustration:

With the exception of a few artistic forms, writing isn't about using flowery phrases and making things sound pretty. It isn't about choosing nice sounding words. Essentially, writing is communication and the most important thing is getting your point across. This only happens when what you write is clear, concise and to the point…sounds boring doesn’t it? It would be for many readers.

Style may be what separates an interesting writer from a dull and lifeless one. If you’ve ever read a particular author for any length of time you become familiar with their particular techniques and way of expressing themselves. This is often called their style.

Style is the method a writer chooses to address an issue to his readers. It’s the writer's individual persona. But it also reveals how they view their audience. Writing style is choices a writer makes in syntactical structures, diction, and figures of thought. Similar questions of style exist in the choices of expressive possibilities in speech. Basically, style is the manner in which an author tells a story.

Each writer has their own individual style or styles, and that’s good. A writer knows he is making progress when someone can read their writing and identify it as being theirs without a byline. If you learn how to recognize matters of style in your writing, you will have more control over it.

A journalist must modify style to fit a particular situation. For example, a person writing a letter would use a different style depending on what type of letter it was. A letter of complaint, condolence or a business letter would all use different styles. Therefore an author must decide whether he wishes to inform, persuade, or entertain.

One problem beginners have with style is using more words than necessary to say something. They use a lot of little "filler" words having little to add to the meaning. These filler words act as delays in getting to your point. Too many delays in your sentence and readers are apt to stop reading. These extra words are also sometimes referred to as superfluous, meaning unnecessary wordiness.

This may be because a writer is uncertain about their topic, lack of having a developed argument or lack of evidence. So, never use words you can't clearly define. Most writers have been guilty of some style "crime" at one time or another, however if you consistently struggle with one, focus your attention on it.

A common example of being too wordy, is use of words like “the,” “that” and “which,” among others. In most cases you’ll find you can eliminate the majority of them without changing the meaning at all. Though it’s fine and well to try and enlarge your vocabulary, stick to words you use normally. If you're only trying to sound impressive, there’s the chance you’ll misuse it.

There are as many definitions of what style is as there are writers. Is it a gift only some writers have…or is it more a matter of taste? Style is not something writers can easily add or remove as they please. A few beginning journalists mistakenly assume style is dictated by subject and classification of material.

For example, fashion writing compared to sports writing. True, each topic has their own approach and generalized rules for composition, but it really doesn’t affect a writers’ style. In fact, many writers don't realize they have a particular style. They just write.

As a writer gains experience and more familiar with the rules, many are tempted to bend them, so to speak. They think they can write whatever they like, and call it their “style.” To a limited extent, this is tolerated by the writing community. As an example, writing a letter to a business associate would not be constructed the same as an office memo. One is formal, the other isn’t. Tone, diction, and framework vary between the two. This also, isn’t really considered style.

Style involves much more than adhering to basic rules. It’s a unique way one strings words together to form a sentence, paragraph and so on. Eventually, you will develop a “personal voice.” This will be your style.

So, what is it? Here are a few definitions of style given by a few accomplished and noted authors:

· Robert Frost: “Style is that which indicates how the writer takes himself and what he is saying. It is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward."

· Jonathon Swift: "Proper words in proper places make the true definition of style."

· Alexander Theroux: "Where there is no style, there is in effect no point of view. There is, essentially, no anger, no conviction, and no self. Style is opinion, hung washing, the caliber of a bullet, teething beads."

· Richard Eberhart: "Style is the perfection of a point of view."

Edward Gibbon: "The style of an author should be the image of his mind, but the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise."


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    • profile image

      shiela 5 years ago

      wow its a good exelent....

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      MerCyn60 Good for you! I am following you now and I'll be watching. :-)

    • MerCyn60 profile image

      MerCyn60 6 years ago from New Jersey shore

      Excellent information. Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions. i read all three of your recommended articles.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Wow! Thanks so much for the reinforcing 'shot in the arm':).

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Yes, Ms Dee, but you do have an an engaging style. It is personified as one confidently speaking from a platform of abundant knowledge. You know what you are talking about and readers will readily stay engrossed in your story, whether or not you can write well. But, you are a competent writer as well.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      This gives me a better grasp on writing style. I appreciate your point of losing the 'fillers' and get to the point! :)

    • ddkrharris profile image

      ddkrharris 6 years ago from Cincinnati, Ohio

      Thanks for the tips. I can always use them.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      DaNoblest, Finally, somebody who pays attention! Thank you.

    • DaNoblest profile image

      DaNoblest 6 years ago from California

      Very interesting hub. I Did learn a few new things, thank you. I am guilty of using too many fillers at times so now I know what to look for.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but I know how to write what I want to say. But, I agree. Somebody takes creative writing 101 and from then on they are an editor. Been there. But I always listen. Sometimes you learn something.

    • darknezz111 profile image

      Daniel Durand 6 years ago from Southern Idaho

      Yeah, you learn the basics, and after that everyone's a critic. You know it's good when the only people who say it isn't call themselves judges or claim to have "vast experience." They always try to throw dirt on your shine.