Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Perfect Equation: Reading + Reading = Developing Your Own Style

You may be questioning the title of my latest post. Well, I got inspired to write about it because I am reading Ernesto Sabato’s The Tunnel, whose controlled and factual style, I find fascinating.

One of my mentors once said that writing cannot be taught, only learned. He further explained that a writer can only learn by reading and writing. Lecturing about style was not enough, he told us. Each writer develops his/her own writing style by reading a lot of books, he then added. You can learn from the Masters but you cannot duplicate their style.

Well, it turns out he was right. I’ve noticed (and my mentors, too) that my style has evolved since I started writing and continues to do so. I owe it all to the many books I’ve read and my mentors, of course. When I write, I fuse different styles and make them my own, always keeping in mind what works better for the story.

Do you think your writing style has changed over time? Whose style do you emulate?


  1. I don't know if my style (such as it is! LOL!) has changed over the years - maybe more the techical side of things- e.g. not waffling too much and learning how to tighten my sentences etc.

    I really think reading as widely and as eclectically as possible and combining these with disciplined academic creative writing courses helps me to improve.

    I always turn to Terry Pratchett's style of writing - deceptively simple and unfussy and a zillion times more profound! Take care

  2. Didn't have any style for a while, the work was stilted, but now it's definitely my own.

  3. I haven't been over here for a while, Claudia, and thought I'd stop by and see what you're doing. I like your book display across the top of the blog. I'm partial to Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I read Fitzgerald voraciously in my early twenties (a LONG time ago), and I'm currently re-reading The Sun Also Rises. Next on my list to re-read is To Kill A Mockingbird, my all-time favorite.

    Thanks for the post. It got me thinking. In my thirties, I think my style became more "lean." In my early youth, it was "flowery" and melodramatic. I think my recently published memoir emulates the style of Raymond Carver and Hemingway--understated. And lots of dialogue, which I seem to do best.

    So what is YOUR style?
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  4. I just read your story, "The Oak Tree." Excellent! In such a very short story, every word has to count. You have made every word count in this story. I'm impressed, and am bookmarking your blog to come back to later to read more!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  5. Whose style do you emulate? Can I rephrase that question? Whose style do I admire?
    For YA I like Catherine Fisher immensely, along with Terry Pratchett's 'Johnny and the bomb' which had a directness and simplicity his discworld books lack. For non YA - Cormac McCarthy, and James Lee Burke. But emulating them...if only. If they influence my work all well and good.

  6. Hi Jennifer,
    I'm sure your style has changed. The story you entered in the contest was amazing. I absolutely loved it. You DO have an easy and flowy style, yet powerful. Keep on writing! :)

    Hi Carole Anne,
    Even as a children's book author, you still have a style that defines you and makes you stand out from the rest.

    Hi Ann,
    Nice to see you around, again. :)
    Like you, I love "To Kill a Mockingbird". Hemingway and Carver are two of my favorite writers. Truth be told, I didn't like Hemingway when I had to read his work in high school. But what did I know then? It was until recently when I started reading his classics again that I fell in love with his easy style. I really enjoy Carver's short stories. I wish I could say I try to emulate them, I can only learn from them.

    Thank you so much, Ann for your kind words. I'm glad to hear you liked my short story "The Oak Tree". It was meant to be flash fiction and my editor told me I could expand it. For now, I want to keep it this way. It humbles me when a talented fellow writer appreciates my work.
    Hope to see you here soon.

    Hi Mike,
    I'm embarrassed to admit that I only watch two films adapted from his books: "All the Pretty Horses" and "No Country for Old Men" :(
    And you're right, we cannot emulate their style but we can learn from their books. Now you piqued my curiosity and I will read McCarthy's books.

  7. I like to think I've progressed my style from unreadable-tripe-slinger to inane-rambler. Next I'm shooting for barely-tolerable-hack.

  8. Hi Adam,
    LOL! You're funny! C'mon, you have to give yourself more credit. I know you write well therefore, your style has changed since you began on this path.

  9. My style has definitely changed. I'm not sure who has most influenced me. A little from here, some from there, and a smidgen from way out yonder :)

  10. Hi Carol,
    LOL! That's awesome Carol. You must definitely have a unique and interesting style since you were influenced by many people. ;)