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My previous blog post was dedicated to the importance of developing a personal writing style. However, you can’t just sit and invent it in five minutes while waiting for a bus. This is a serious, complicated task that can only be completed by writing prolifically for months.
Unfortunately, there is no instant method of developing your unique, recognizable writing style. Don’t believe Internet gurus who promise to teach you, “10 easy, miraculous steps to become a famous writer.” Quality is a product of quantity (and talent or genius, of course), and can’t be achieved by doing some mumbo-jumbo stuff to make people love your reading.
The number one advice for developing a writing style has little in common with writing. It’s in fact the opposite: read. Read as much as you can, and make the range of authors you read maximally broad. Classics would be a good option to start with, as their quality has already passed the time check. In visual arts, one can hardly create something new without paraphrasing or re-interpreting preceding material. The same works for literature: to be able to write, you must have a background. So, don’t reinvent the bicycle, and use what you have been generously granted with.
Unexpectedly, you might begin copying the style of your favorite writers. I remember how I wrote my first novel. I worked on it day and night, and I liked it. For me, it looked like the essence of style and intrigue. Then I switched to writing other compositions; I did not return to that novel for a while. However, a couple of months later, I was rereading it, wanting to make some corrections, but as a result I completely rewrote it instead of just editing. I discovered that my novel was a rather poor paraphrase of my favorite author. Though the story and the characters were mine, the tone, the language, and the style was almost exactly like that author’s writing. So, keep in mind that at first, you will most likely write like somebody else. I guess it’s natural.
One of the ways to avoid this is to write the same way as you talk. For at least a week, pay attention to what and how you speak: what words you usually use, how long your sentences are, what slang you like or dislike. Watch your manner of speech: tone, voice, and emotional palette. Actually, you don’t need anything else except this: everybody speaks and thinks in their own way, and one’s writing style is a direct reflection of it.
However, to reach this simplicity, you will have to work hard. A sword becomes sharp when sharpened and polished; writing improves when it becomes a permanent process. No matter where you are and what you do, you must write. Be it a suddenly inspired short story, an outline for a book chapter, a haiku, or a sketch of a momentary impression, be ready to write it down. Don’t strive to write well from the very beginning—allow your writing to be crude and unprofessional. The more you write, the more diverse your writing will become. Soon enough, you will be able to build more sophisticated sentences; your dialogues will become less forced out and more lively; your characters will no longer remind of all the possible cliches, and so on. Once you come to the realization of how you write in a certain tone, use specific phrases or writing techniques that are attributed to your natural speech—it will be the beginning of your style.
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