26 Mar Finding your personal style
You can teach a lot about the craft of writing but style is very personal. It comes through practice. It’s about getting familiar enough with words, the rhythm of how they fit together and the overall shape of a narrative. Even though I’ve been writing professionally for twenty years I’m still learning.
Some of it is instinct. Some things you learn by reading and analysing how other authors write. I still do that. I’ll never stop.
Gotham Writers’ School says style boils down to three things:
- Diction – word choice
- Syntax – sentence length
- Paragraphs – long, short.
Style also comes from within. It reflects how you see the world.
When I was working with journalist and author Mick Brown at London’s Telegraph we used to joke that we’d love an ‘ironising machine’.
We imagined it would look like a fax (remember them?). Once you’d written your story you could put in a ‘humour symbol’ at ket points – a wink wink nudge nudge cartoon of two arched eyebrows and a pair of laughing eyes.
Then this magical machine would make your story ironical and funny. All those parts that needed spicing up and flexing out would be transformed. All the ‘try hard’ bits would re-configure into jokes.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
I still haven’t found one of those machines. I’m still no good at writing humorously but I’ve decided I’m going to have a crack and learn.
This year I’ll be signing up for an online Humour Writing course at Gotham. I’ll let you know how I go. Or maybe you’ll be able to spot a shift in my style.
Over to you. Can you write comedy?