On Writing Styles

Let me tell you something. As a kid, I wasn’t particularly fussy, but yet someone with peculiar tastes. God bless my mother, how she put up with my myriad moods is a mystery to me.  It was many years later that I was going to learn about Wilde’s popular and my mantra for life – Be you, everybody else is taken. But somehow even at the age of two, it quite influenced me.

I grew up with this natural urge to be different. When I started to write, the urge took the shape of a hungry blistering monster. Today, as a writer, the hunger drives me. But it isn’t just fantasy, it’s the need. And for many years, I did not know how to be that. How do you be different in an ocean-full of a zillion writers out there?

In the fall of 2005, when I read Jhumpa Lahiri for the first time, a tiny spark of inspiration hit as realization lit the dark room of my mind. I knew I wanted to write like her. Not in the sense of what she writes, but how she writes. Word after word, I was drowning in her stories and I knew I wanted to create that kind of impact on my readers too. And then, I just knew what I missed.

I needed to have a style of my own. A writing style, that was by me, for me.

So what’s a writing style? Let’s just say – it’s how you dress your words; how you express yourself.

Unless you find that style, you are going to be lost. It’s the light that leads you through a dark eerie tunnel; that saves you. And let me correct myself – it’s not something you find, but something you create. Not something you adopt, but something you invent.

I cringe when I see lengthy paragraphs smothering pages. It immediately makes me skip the page. As a reader, I’m someone who has a short term memory for remembering things when I’m reading. A long paragraph just dies half way with me. And so I hate to adapt to that writing style. But that’s not all. Creativity also greatly defines your style.

I guess what I’m trying to say is,

Write long, write short. Make it interesting, make it descriptive. Make it something.

No one wants to read anything. If you have a reader walk up to your blog, the least you want is to have them stay and if possible, come back again. And it’s only your writing style that gets them hooked. Who otherwise has the time really?

Whether you write long prose or short poems, only your writing style differentiates you from the lot. So explore, experiment, and do not settle until you’ve made it.

What’s your writing style? What are your thoughts on having a unique writing style? Do share a word or two.

(In my next article, I shall share bits on some writing styles.)

Asha Seth

120 thoughts on “On Writing Styles

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  1. I love your description of Lahiri’s work. She is one of my favorite short story writers, along with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and it is because of their writing styles that I am such a big fan. Prose that sings through you, almost tangible, like you can taste it or wrap yourself in it. A way of choosing and arranging words so that you’re pulled in deeper with every one, then left feeling like you’ve been punched in the stomach. I can’t even really find the words to describe the way they use theirs. LOL Other than it always leaves me with a fierce hunger to put my own pen to paper. Or fingers to keys, a the case may be. 🙂

    Suffice it to say, I first encountered Lahiri in “Interpreter of Maladies,” and like you, I was left with the deep conviction that I wanted to write like THAT. As I mentioned earlier, Divakaruni is another author whose writing style inspires me, but there are many others who do as well. Other than Lahiri, are there any specific writers that you would consider a major source of inspiration/motivation?

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    1. Again you are right about Lahiri… I have read Divakaruni just once, and yet to taste her style thoroughly, which for me is only after I’ve read more than a couple books.
      IOM still remains my book for winter days when I’m looking for solace. It’s simply special!
      Like I remember mentioning in one of my posts:
      https://themusingquill.com/2016/09/09/awards/

      I am been time and again inspired by the writing styles of Maurier, Marquez, Bukowski, Vikram Seth, and few others.
      I know they’ve got me hooked because I keep returning to their works.
      Do you have any other favorites?
      P.S.: I love to read your thoughts. 🙂

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  2. Style is definitely the greatest distinction between authors, I’ll have to check out your following post for your opinions on style. You have a unique voice though, and that sets you apart on a different level. Every author is entrusted with the talent and ability to convey their message in a way only they can: by using their distinct voice.

    Our style may make us different, but our message makes us unique and important. What we have to say is why people return to read what we say. Great read here, your message is on point!

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    1. Pleased to have you here, Jared.
      I believe that your writing needs to have a distinct personality; not resembling someone. Only that makes all the difference. And oh, you said it right. We all have it in us, our unique voice. We need to lend it to our writing.
      I will publish that post soon. I’m getting the material ready for it.
      Hope you’ve been well.

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  3. Another wonderful post Asha! I definitely write what inspires me and from my heart. I also enjoy shorter paragraphs and chapters, it just makes the reading move along and not seem as overwhelming. Scribbling my random thoughts and subject matter in a notebook is a life saver too, otherwise I quickly forget what they were. Thanks and have a wonderful day. Let it inspire you!❤

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  4. My style is long and a wee bit flowery. Personally I like beautiful descriptions, over terse prose. More Deborah Harkness than Hemingway. Except when I blog. I try to keep those short so people aren’t deterred from reading.

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  5. Don’t know how I missed your recent posts. Anyhow, I completely loved your idea of ‘writing style’, and you have an amazing one, one which made me start reading you and the one which has held me here even till now. 🙂
    Now-a-days, my fingers aren’t in harmony with my mind. Writing has been tough for me for some reason.
    PS – I know last two lines were not in connection with the content of this post. Just felt like sharing.

    Keep writing Asha. ❤

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    1. I am happy to read whatever you scribble. It’s always worth it. I’ve been missing out on your posts too. I hate when that starts to happen as there’s a tiresome lot of digging around to be done then.
      My fingers, my heart, I find are never in sync. It’s always a struggle. But I’m glad we still manage, we still live breathing through our words. 🙂
      P.S.:I love casual strays from the intended. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Asha, just love yourself first, then you will be yourself, and always be genuine, and selfless in all you share! That combination causes and reader to find your blog sweet nourishment. Everyone can relate to someone is genuinely real. I have never tried to impress with what I share, I only seek to share what is alive within me to others! I always find you to be a unique gem…I try to write about what shaped me, Gods love! Love touches others instantly. I enjoy your messages and poems and writings all the time my sister! Hugs and blessings!

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  7. We are born unique, let it show in your writing too!
    I agree, our voice, our writing style is something we create, refine and define.
    Thanks for this thought-provoking post, next part is eagerly awaited 🙂

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  8. I feel that finding your own style happens on accident. It’s almost like handwriting – how do we get our handwriting style? We learn it, copy it, but ultimately it’s our own thing. Perhaps that’s too simple a comparison.

    For me I tend to change styles depending on the subject. I’ve just come to the end of a first draft of a ‘funny’ fantasy book, but I’d hate for anyone to think I was copying Terry Pratchett and his very unique style (Although I adore his work!).

    At the same time I’m working on a collection of short stories to self publish, all focused on loss and death, so most certainly not funny. I think only at the end of all of it will I ever be able to identify my own style.

    Great post – I’ve followed you ^_^

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    1. I quite agree that the piece you’re working on defines your style, but it doesn’t change drastically. You may opt a slight variation just so to match your audience’s wavelength but it’d remain more or less the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Write from your heart. Write about your experiences. Weave a bit of you into your writing. I have learned that nothing gets simpler than that. Maybe, that is how writing styles evolve? I don’t know. All the same, that is my go-to writing mantra. 🙂 Looking forward to your subsequent posts.

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  10. It was interesting to learn about your journey to your style. I like the lightness and efficiency of your writing. You have asked the reader to share a word or two about his style too. Permit me to quote Ernest Hemingway: For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

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    1. I’ve followed Marquez, Lahiri, Doyle, Maurier, and have always been astonished to find that their works consistently bettered themselves. I guess thats where I found my inspiration.
      Hemingway’s quote stays with me for it is abundantly rich in its stance. Appreciate you sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Writing style is all abut the writing and being confident in your own voice and ideas. Once that is practised the writer will develop and get better. Márquez did a three paragraph book once but I know he would have hooked you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s taken me sufficient time to come at that. I always wanted to have a style that made reading fun but also inspired others to write. Of the former, I’m sure, I’m there somewhere. Of the latter, only time will tell. Loved reading your thoughts, Pradipta. Behold, you’ll soon discover yours. 🤓

      Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was in college my professor used to get on me for writing fragmented sentences …so I had to learn to write more to the point with better sentence structure. My point is sometime your writing style is built on how it is groomed, in my case more by my professor.

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    1. You’ve raised a valid point, Jerry. The inspiration can lead you to different things and most times, they’re good.
      As for sentence construction, I guess all of us have had our share of trails.

      Like

  13. I liked the sentence ‘it’s how you dress your words’ , sometimes tattered clothes attract, but then the quality should co-exist like a Gunshot Jean from Tommy…Sometimes i intentionally don’t ‘ dress’ my words to unleash the raw beauty… But then it depends…
    As a writer i embrace postmodernism & surrealism and i am trying to attain the state of NIRVANA in writing… Waiting to comprehend your writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You are like my favorite I cant help it you just make me happie each time I read you but in a different way each time! Word after word I am now drowning in your stories here so I would say your inspiration truly took hold of you! ❤ XO!

    Liked by 1 person

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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