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Drama: May 12, 2010 Issue [#3728]

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 This week: What is Style and How Do I Develop Mine?
  Edited by: esprit
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Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

"There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges."
(Ernest Hemingway)

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Letter from the editor

What is Style, and How Do I Develop My Own?

The first and most basic rule of writing a short story is: Learn to tell a good story.

A really good storyteller can get by with less than brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story.

But, I bet you already knew that.

*Bullet* Don't search for an agent until you've learned how to write a good story.
*Bullet* Don't worry about feedback damaging your style.

Major Components of Stories

The five Double-u's - Who, What, When, Where, Why and sometimes How. Is that the way it was taught to you in school? Sometimes How? The qualifier 'sometimes'' needs to be changed to 'always', because it is impossible to have a good story without the How.

The elements of fiction are: Character - Who, Plot - What, Setting - Where and When, Theme - Why, and Style - How a writer sets all these things together to tell a good story.

Style includes the multitude of choices fiction writers make, consciously or subconsciously, as they create a story. It covers the big-picture, strategic choices such as point of view and narrator, but it also includes the nitty-gritty, tactical choices of grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence and paragraph length and structure, tone, emotion, the use of imagery. In the process of rewriting, these choices begin to blend together to become the writer’s voice, his or her own unique style.

"Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of style."
(Jonathan Swift)

*Bullet* Style is: Using the words that come naturally to you.

Of course you want to increase your vocabulary, but If you're using a word only to sound impressive, you're likely to misuse it or use it awkwardly. You'll be showing-off.

Style is not: dialect, creative spelling, incorrect grammar, telling an aside author-to-reader secret, choosing to not use punctuation, using fancy, ten-dollar words, using slang for slang's sake, etc. .

Be clear. Awkward writing takes readers out of the fictional dream you're working so hard to create.

Be concise. Make sure each sentence is as direct and simple as possible.

Be precise. Clear, detailed writing will make your prose come to life.
Pay attention to word choice.

"You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being."
(Katherine Anne Porter)

Style is developed, good or bad, in direct ratio to how much time is spent learning the craft of writing. Style Is Craftsmanship. It's knowing how to structure a sentence, knowing what wordiness is and how to cut it. Knowing how to study feedback and use it as needed. It's knowing how important it is to write the story as it comes, and then rewrite it clearly so it all makes sense to readers.

Style encompasses 'Voice'. Knowing how the voice is changed to fit the individual characters and story. A hard, raspy, clipped voice for the detective, dialect for the cowboy, etc. Style is the intelligent use of words to tell a good story in a fresh way.

"Style and structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash."
(Vladimir Nabokov)

Beginning writers sometimes feel that reviewers just don't like their genre of choice, so hesitate to make the big changes thinking they will damage their style. This is not the case. It's true that each genre has its own rules that must be considered when reviewing, but if the basic structure is weak and out of balance, the final story will never come together. Give it a strong foundation by rewriting.

Your unique voice and style will develop as you learn where your difficult areas are and practice to improve them.

"Who cares what a man’s style is, so it is intelligible, as intelligible as his thought. Literally and really, the style is no more than the stylus, the pen he writes with; and it is not worth scraping and polishing, and gilding, unless it will write his thoughts the better for it. It is something for use, and not to look at."
(Henry David Thoreau)

There are rules to writing that must be mastered and they apply to all genres. Style is knowing how to write a good character, how to present the setting, and how to keep it all in order. Style is writing a piece so smoothly that all the readers notice is the world you've taken them into. The author and his words will become invisible.

Do you tire of seeing the same advice over and over? Such as: Read good writers and study them. Practice. Rewrite. It's repeated so often because it's the best advice anyone can give or get - it actually works.

Your style will be naturally yours and naturally good.

Thanks for reading,

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Editor's Picks

A Flag That Waves For Me  [18+]
for purpose, for truth, for the measure of a man...
by kjo just groovin'

Night is closing in fast. It's chasing dusk's last spray of light. Soon we will move with nervous calculation, but for now we huddle with our weapon, the cool hardness steady in our grips as our eyes peer into the jungle exploring every shadow and silhouette illuminated by the full moon climbing into the turbulent skies above Da Nang.

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

Heavy curtains hide the bedroom windows. The sun leaks in at the sides and up near the ceiling where the curtains can’t reach. It’s forever night in our bedroom. We move and cuddle like blind mole rats. Ben used to need the light on to see me. He used to throw the blankets I like to hide in on the floor until he was weary enough to sleep, to succumb to darkness. But now, Ben knows every freckle and scar by heart.

 Lynn McKay Ch 1   [E]
Story of a young girl who fights neglect, cruelty and abuse to emerge victorious.
by KSutton working on 6th book

Lynn had no recollection of anything before the age of four. I was a curious feeling she got when she looked at pictures of a slight little girl of two and a half or three, blond wispy hair and big round blue eyes that were supposed to be her at that age, but the photographs generated no emotion. Lynn thought she was looking at someone else's child born in 1952.

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

To keep her husband with her, like the conjoined pig fetuses her grandmother once displayed in a jar, Mathilde withheld many opinions and aspects of her life she thought he might disagree with. Like the hot-cheeked flush she felt when they moved from the country to the city only two days after her young daughter’s wedding.

 Invalid Item  []

by A Guest Visitor

A thumb jutted through the haze from a lanky silhouette.
"Hop on in," I said, braking beside the figure.
Smiling, the sweaty young man thanked me and stepped inside, tossing his external-frame teal pack into the backseat.
"Where ya headin'?" I asked. "We don't get many backpackers around these parts."


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Ask & Answer

Comments on "Drama Newsletter (April 14, 2010)

By: Adriana Noir
*Smile* You made me eat my own words....and here I was pretty sure text speak would never come in handy. Great NL, Esprit. I'm sure nonfiction will pave the path for a lot of writers trying to break through!

I'm pretty sure we could still get by without it, Adriana, but the story will decide.

By: scribbler
Comment: OMG (that's oh my god btw (by the way)). Seriously the worst advice you could give someone is to brush up on internet language. There is nothing worse than seeing someone abuse text slang. It's like when books use phonetic spelling for dialogue oh a person who speaks different, be it an accent for dialect thing. This should ONLY be attempted if you are a very very good author who is very very confident in their abilities. As a young person it pisses me off to see people use internet slang in writing because it is usually PAINFULLY obvious to me if the person is uncomfortable with it (read: old). Plus everyone has a different way of using the slang (idn vs. idk for 'I don't know' for example) and often we just write out words. I never text 'u' I always spell the word, just out of personal preference. Anyway I just think using text and internet slang in writing is generally a bad idea and often cheapens the writing.

scribbler, Do you write YA? As I said in the newsletter, "If you're writing for teens and your story is set in modern times, there's a good chance text messaging may be part of the mix."

To leave it completely out of current timeline YA stories will put a strain on believability. Text is used by all ages regularly. Of course trying to narrate a story in chat speak doesn't work, and I didn't mean to imply that or that conversations should be written in the form.

But a line of text between two characters works if the story calls for it. It should only be 'read' by the reader if the words have a purpose and can't be spoken. I can't imagine any teen with a cell phone not using it. As for writers being uncomfortable with it, old or young, that's why the links were included. We must know it to write it.

No one wants to see a 'u' instead of 'you' anywhere else. Thanks for your opinion.

We always appreciate the feedback, thanks!


Adriana Noir

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