50 years from now, how do you want to be known as a writer?
Each great author has a unique way of getting their stories across, a method for which they are known and loved. Edgar Allan Poe used a lot of description. Ernest Hemingway used many short sentences. William Shakespeare used strange, rhythmic diction. You can have a distinct professional reputation, too – you just have to create your writing style!
The style you create is a compilation of who you are as a writer, and only you can determine how it reads for your audience. Others will look back at your work and appreciate the specific way your writing speaks for itself.
Not sure what your style is yet? Don’t worry; it takes time and practice to discover it, but that’s just all part of the fun!
The two best things you can do to discover your style are reading and writing.
As you read, you are constantly absorbing the techniques of the greats, which can point you in the right direction toward discovering your own. Here are some tips to finding your writing style as you read:
- Pay attention to the catchy sentences that get your attention and make you want to read more. Is there a certain style the author utilizes to make reading an enjoyable adventure? How can you make a sentence like that one in your own work? You may not be fond of using big words, for example, but if you read a sentence packed with huge words, and that happens to add a comical effect, you may want to try expanding your vocabulary in the future.
- Notice the sentence styles you dislike. Have you ever read a story that seemed like a complete waste of your time? Determine why that was. Maybe it used too many words to describe one thing. Maybe its dialogue wasn’t engaging enough. Make notes on what writing styles and techniques you find ineffective or boring so you can avoid them in your own writing.
- Keep a notepad handy while you read, so you can note the methods that do and don’t work when forming a story. Jot down anything from punchy sentences you love, to interesting diction you want to try out in your own tales.
Your specific writing signature will differ from anyone else’s, no matter how much you mirror past writers. Whatever your writing ends up looking like, it is yours, and only you can determine what best shapes it moving forward. Explore the styles of other authors to determine what you want your writing to become – or what you definitely want to avoid – but don’t be afraid to add your own special twist to set yourself apart from the rest.
Time to start crafting your words into a masterpiece! Take note of the way you write, and what your finished product says about you as an author. Here are some tips to finding your writing style through practice:
- Get into a comfortable environment that allows you to express your ideas well. Personally, I have found listening to music helps motivate me to write, and relaxing jazz is especially effective when I need to clear my thoughts and structure my words. Whether you write better sitting under a tree with a notepad, or in bed with a neck warmer, do whatever helps you get those creative juices flowing and your pen moving across the paper.
- Write what you like, so it isn’t a chore. If you enjoy science fiction, then writing about an astronaut that crash-lands on Jupiter is probably going to keep you excited and engaged as you work. Creating a story you’re passionate about makes it much easier to keep writing, and less likely to lose steam.
- Keep a journal to help you find your voice. You can start with simple things such as writing how your day went. A diary is an effective way to get your ideas onto paper, and you can analyze the finished entries to help you find your strengths as a writer.
- Try out random, out-of-context sentences. For example, “As I looked at my exam results, I knew it was going to be a long day.” They don’t have to make sense or go anywhere other than in your notebook, but they help you experiment with putting words together and making them sound great. You might even get some workable story ideas out of it!
- Experiment with new things. All writers have niche genres, and whether you’ve found yours or not, you can always go dabble in more. Try your hand at poetry, a mystery, or whatever else you think you might enjoy. You may even discover you’ve got a hidden talent for sketch comedy writing that you never even knew you had.
Writing is more than putting words together; it’s about crafting the perfect sentences to form a masterpiece.
6 Sentence Structures to Try in Your Writing
Creating an outstanding writing style starts with outstanding sentences. Among the many literary devices you can apply, here are six effective sentence structures you can use to refine your writing.
1. Long and Short Sentence Variation: Both long and short sentences have a purpose in your writing. Long sentences create rich detail, while short sentences get right to the point. By using both types of sentences in your work, you create an interesting, varied piece that readers can’t pull away from.
- Example: “As the ink bled into my parchment, I savored the joy of writing and created the last sentence, finally finishing my novel. It was a great last sentence.”
- Analysis: The first sentence adds depth and describes the excitement of writing, something the reader can feel. The second sentence is like a punchline that ends the story nicely without having to say too much. A short closing sentence is something impactful that a reader will remember.
2. Items in a Series: Organizing ideas in a series with punctuation offers a detailed sentence that isn’t too wordy.
- Example: “Becoming a writer is not easy; it takes immense creativity, constant perseverance, and hard work.”
- Analysis: The use of commas and the semicolon gives the ideas room to breathe while still crafting an informative sentence.
3. Varying Effects: If you want to show the powerful applications of something, this structure lays out a large scale of results, from just sort of interesting to fascinating.
- Example: “From drafting an essay to creating a best-selling book, the applications for writing are all around us.”
- Analysis: Instead of explaining all the things that writing can do, this sentence only demonstrates a couple of specific examples. This leaves the rest up to imagination, yet demonstrates how many possibilities there are under one subject’s overarching umbrella.
4. Parallelism: This technique involves using a similar construction in multiple sentences, or similar sentence parts. For example, repeating words or phrases with minor differences.
- Example: “Writing enhances your brain. Writing creates new dimensions. Writing turns the raw material of the world into a symphony. It all starts with writing.”
- Analysis: All four sentences begin or end with the word “writing,” which shows the extensive applications this one occupation can have.
5. Avoiding Unnecessary Repetition: This is a simple tactic that makes your writing significantly more exciting. You may need to occasionally repeat a word (whether for parallelism or a comedic purpose) but do what you can to change up your verbiage and use a synonym instead.
- Bad Example: “My essay was finally finished, and as I emailed the essay to my professor, I knew he would love my essay.”
- Good Example: “My essay was finally finished, and as I emailed the masterpiece to my teacher, I knew he would love it.”
- Analysis: Reusing the word “essay” makes the sentence boring and needlessly repetitive. When we change “essay” into different words like “masterpiece,” we establish other elements in the story such as the speaker’s attitude and pride toward what he wrote.
6. Cause and Effect: This is a simple method to fit an entire story into a sentence. You can give the reader the result, then easily clarify how you got there.
- Example: “In order to write, you must learn the basics.”
- Analysis: Using a conditional, or if-then statement, is a smart way to change the sentence around a bit. You could say something like, “You must learn the basics in order to write,” but turning it into two clauses makes it easier to read and follow.
Make Your Writing Yours
These six sentence styles and strategies may work for you, or they may not. Regardless, you should always make your writing your writing. Your personal style is what makes it appeal to the reader. If you dislike using parallelism, but love short sentences, then go with the latter. And if you keep trying things out as you continue writing, you can fine-tune that signature fingerprint you want to leave on your sentences, one nobody else could produce.
Ernest Hemmingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing is personal, and once you find a style worth developing, your readers will fall in love with your unforgettable words.