How do I Develop My Own Writing Style?

Your writing style develops naturally out of your experiences and preferences. I’m not sure you can use more adjectives, metaphors, or quotations than you would normally would without sounding pretentious or affected. Tom Robbins’ writing went off in spectacular tangents but that doesn’t mean your use will result in the same fireworks. And what are you writing about anyway?

You will obviously have more liberty to personalize with fiction. And if you have a large word count. Style must change with your audience: your editor and your readers. My newspaper article style is for a home-town weekly with a five hundred word limit. That’s not a large sandbox to play in. My magazine article style is more relaxed but still focused. Vigorous writing, no matter how many times we fail to do it, is always the goal. And the one writer who always wrote that way was George Orwell.

George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language (external link) remains, I think, the most important essay on thinking and writing well. A product of wartime Britain, it is not the easiest essay to read. Several years ago I put together an annotated version with my references to the many now obscure people and places that Orwell referenced. It’s at the link above and at other places.

Will you be able to write like Orwell if you follow his rules? Of course not. He was gifted and had a supreme dedication to his craft. His first novel, Down and Out in Paris and London, remains an accomplishment most of us could never achieve even with forty years of trying. Still, I think you will develop a workmanlike style if you practice what he preaches. And a workmanlike style, something that does not offend but informs, is a good style indeed.





By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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