Last Monday I completed a timed assignment for my current PR course in which I had to write three news releases incorporating facts the instructor listed for us. We had a 25 minute block for the first story, then 20, then 15; the whole idea was to teach us how to work within a time constraint and be creative under pressure. It was also an opportunity for us to develop and/or apply our own writing style.
That phrase always amuses me: Writing style. I’ve been writing for so long that I don’t actively think about what my style is when I approach a piece or assignment. I just attack it.
I did, however, attempt to pay attention to my style after the fact this time. I’ve determined mine varies depending on the audience and what exactly I’m writing, but I do have some commonalities that thread through all of my pieces:
- My writing is imagery heavy: I love metaphor. I love beautiful language. While I’m no poet, I do have a tendency to get creative when given the opportunity. There is no law that states certain writing has to be boring and only other writing can sing.
- I write with an elevated vocabulary: I like words and I know many. I have never excelled at dumbing myself down, not that I think people who don’t use “fancy” words are dumb. I do my best to be clear and not confuse my audience, but I also have faith that people can and do understand bigger words than they think they might. Context is pretty helpful on that front.
- I’m blunt: Both on paper and in life I have a tendency to tell it like it is. I’ve never been good at sugar-coating; I’m simply a realist. People who prevaricate drive me nuts and I personally prefer being told good and bad things directly. I know this seems to counter my love of imagery, but obviously there’s a time and a place for both. For instance, with fiction, you should never go into a long-winded description of scene or emotions in the middle of a fight scene. Always stick tight to the action.
- I enjoy creating long, complicated sentences: This is not necessarily a positive. I’m constantly editing myself to make sure my sentences are clear and concise. I am excellent at burying clauses within other clauses; however, that doesn’t mean the reader is going to follow me as well as I follow myself. This is why editing is utterly important.
That’s about the extent of my self-analysis. Do you know your writing style?
P.S.: Apparently writing style is something I think about more than I realized! Nearly two years ago I wrote this post on writing style after reading Blood Cross and Acceptance. I tackled much different aspects in my first post.