Monday, March 20, 2017

Learning Your Writing Style

Today is the first Indie e-Con day! I'm super excited to be a part of this e-Con. Today, our subject is... "Writing." There are a lot of authors sharing from their experience. You may check out the list of authors here.

"Learning Your Writing Style"

“The best way to learn writing is TO write.”

Agree? Disagree?

What about somewhere in the middle? A quote by C.S. Lakin kind of sums up my thoughts: “Hands-on experience coupled with diligent ‘book’ learning make for a sound education. And so too writers, to construct solid, lasting novels, need both ‘hands-on’ experience and ‘book’ learning.” (from 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction)

I have learned a lot about writing through reading various books on the craft (and there are some great ones out there)! But more needful than that, by writing, I have been learning MY personal method of writing. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no book out there that will help you know that. Guess what you have to do to figure it out? (*points back to the opening quote*)

From what I’ve read, most authors agree to three main writing styles are: pantser, plotter, and those in-between. But if you read a dozen books on the writing craft, these three main styles are broken down into dozens of different applications and approaches—based on the author’s personal method. Usually, all of these approaches have very logical reasoning. However, it can be frustrating. One book says to spend six months plotting before you even start chapter one. Another book says just write. Yet another book says to make rough sketches of where you’re going. Et cetera, et cetera. It is easy to get swept into trying the dozens of methods and ending up as a big, hot writer’s mess, still with nothing to speak for all of our hard work. Am I the only one who has seen that frustration? What do we do to get out of it? (I shall refrain from pointing up top again)

I can only speak for myself, but something pretty neat has happened in the past year, as I’ve completed three novellas. As I’ve gone from idea to rough draft to publication (or soon-to-be publication for novella #3), I’ve noticed something about myself: I’m a “layer” writer. First, I write down the general story (the basic plot, telling the story). Usually, there are some very strong, key elements missing in that first draft (like Edward’s letter in “Journey to Love” and Belle’s awful sneaking habits in “Befriending the Beast”). But so far, I haven’t been able to discover those missing elements until I’ve actually written something (so, there goes the super-plotting for me; it bogs me down and snubs out my creativity). For all three novellas, I’ve had to write my first draft then sit back and do some planning—sometimes, serious planning (the biggest changes has been in “The Secret Slipper” where I had almost completely rewrite half of the story). The first time this happened, it felt like I was thrown behind schedule. I was ready to be done, yet here I was, making some pretty major changes. Fast-forward to now, and I’ve come to expect it. My first draft will be missing those important themes and clinchers, which the rewrite will improve. It’s just the way I write (might I add that I hope that someday, my brain will catch up and fill in those gaps for the rough draft?).

Another thing I’ve noticed as I’ve written is my writing weaknesses. I’d have to say that number one in my weakness list is probably description (anyone else there?). My beta-readers often come back with, “How did she feel? What did he look like? Where are they?” Whoopsie! However, if I worry about this in my rough-draft, I get so hung up on the description that my story begins to lose its flavor. So, I don’t worry about in the rough draft. I might not even worry about it too much in the rewrite. But, at some point, I will do a thorough run-over my manuscript and think about my story—through the eyes of the viewer. If I need an extra bit of help (which, I usually do), I’ll ask my draft-readers to specifically point out places they thought needed an extra boost.

All of this to say, I’ve discovered that cramming myself into someone else’s mold just doesn’t work. Sure, we can get ideas from others’ methods. We just can’t use them as our law (unless, by some chance, our writing style and method is the identical twin to someone else’s). We have to learn what works for us, what doesn’t work for us, and embrace our own, unique writing style and methods.

What about you? How would you describe yourself as a writer? Have you learned your writing method yet? I'd love to hear how you write!


Kendra E. Ardnek said...

Writing Styles are Tricky.

Thanks so much for taking part in Indie e-Con!

Rachel Rossano said...

Thank you for this great article.

I am an organic storyteller where the characters drive the story and action. That being said, I am learning how to plot and plan more for the sake of writing speed and planned depth to the story. From experience, I have learned that going straight plotter doesn't work for me. The stories lose their luster that way. On the other hand, I am developing a way that helps me plot on a large generic scale while leaving plenty of room for my characters to still rule the story's flow and throw curves when they want to. :)

Sarah said...

Great post!

I sympathize on the struggling with description thing. Not so much with emotion, but with everything else . . . I'm so focused on the story itself that I forget about describing stuff!

Amanda T. said...

@ Kendra - glad to be a part!!

@ Rachel - wow, that does sound a bit like me and how I write. At least, how I'm trying to learn. Straight plotter definitely does cramp my story's luster. It was neat to hear your side. Thanks for sharing!

@ Sarah - Exactly my problem!!! :) :) I like a moving story--I don't often stop to smell the roses. ;)

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