A Life Of Fiction LXIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

 

Writing styles: By this I mean the way that you string words together, rather than handwriting. My handwriting is so bad that if I put a sample of it on here then you would have a great difficulty in reading it. I was told, at school, that my handwriting was so bad that I would fail English (I got an A, by the way).

It may be thought that each writer only has one writing style. But that is not necessarily the case. I find that I use slightly different styles depending on the sort of book which I am creating. I have, in the past, attempted to deliberately alter my style of writing to suit the subject matter.

I also find that the way in which I write alters slightly, whether I am writing in the first person or in the third person. In the first person I tend to feature the thoughts and doubts of the protagonist. Whereas, with the third person, you are outside the mind of the main protagonist. Both equally valid, as far as I am concerned.

There are other tricks, ways in which you can differentiate your style from one piece of writing to the next.

Sometimes I have deliberately gone for what I consider to be an ornate style, with the most purple of purple prose. At other times I prefer my words to be prosaic. It all depends on what sort of effect I’m trying to achieve. One style is not necessarily superior to the other. If you are writing a novel about working class people in the north of Britain – something which I have never done – you will probably not want it to read like it was written by John Keats at his most romantic.

Consider these two different pieces of prose. The first is from an unfinished murder mystery novel, called The Dig At Norbert Farm. The second is from another unfinished work, called Insanity.

 

It all started one dreary, rainy April morning in Kent, dreary like so many April mornings before. A light drizzle permeated the air, and the clothes of any one foolish enough to be outside. Too light to be considered rain, it made people just as wet.

   George Parker was driving his clapped out Morris Minor up a potholed farm track, on his way to Norbert Farm. He swerved from side to side to avoid the potholes. They had filled up with brown water, and he could not tell how deep they were. And the last thing that he wanted to do on this specific morning was to get stuck in a particularly deep one.

 

And:

 

Run around the mulberry bush chasing your tail, chasing your bush, this fox no longer has any hounds.

   Woke up one morning after the end of the world. It was the day after the disease had finished its course, some mental disease that went from brain to brain to brain, filling their minds with all sort of fun. La di da, la di da.

   Woke up one morning, wished I was dead. But at least I have no madness running through my head. No, sirree, I am A OK, all clear. The doctor would have given me a clean bill of mental health, if he could.

   It happened so quickly, just a few weeks to get the whole world. Everybody gone gaga. Everybody painting like Dada. I wonder if the disease has extended to those in Antarctic research stations yet, all of those sitting in the cold and the white, wondering why no relief ships will ever come for them. They are all alone in the whiteout. But there’s nothing that I can do about that. They will have to be frosty. It’s better than going bonkers.

 

The first piece is intended to be normal, shall we say? There are no obscure words in it. It tends to follow what are generally thought of as the rules of grammar. These words are at that start of a mystery novel, and should not detract from the story which you are trying to tell.

The second piece is about a person waking up into an apocalyptic world, one in which everything is descending into chaos. People have literally gone mad all over the world. And the prose was designed to try to reflect the outer craziness with some deliberately odd sentences.

 

I could give more examples of different writing styles. But those two should be enough to indicate that one writer does not have to have all of his oeuvre sounding the same.

Develop an inner voice. Initially that should be for you as an author, so that it is you speaking, and you are not simply mechanically plonking words down on the page. But once you hear such a voice then listen for other voices – those of your protagonists. If you are writing from a first person perspective you should be able to internalise the thoughts and passions of your main character. If you are in touch then his voice should not be yours, and that should be reflected in the end product.

This is a theme which I think that I will return to at some stage in the future. The next post will be Join Our Club.

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