Ten Tenets of Novel Writing: Style

A series looking at the ten different principles that go into writing a good book. This essay discusses style.

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Follows: Perspective

There are a lot of elements that go into writing a good book, and with those a lot of areas that can cause people to trip up. Throughout these series I’m going to be exploring the different elements. This essay is going to be looking at my fifth tenet: style.

Once you’ve got the fundamentals of your story figured out, you need to settle on what your style is going to be. As writers, we all have our own unique style or voice that we use when we’re writing. This is different to the voice of the characters; I’m talking about your own individual writing style. The words you choose, the way that you structure sentences, how you describe, and things like that. This will change with each different novel you write but there will be enough similarities and consistency that, given time, people will be able to tell it was you that wrote the piece without knowing it.

Neil Gaiman plays heavily with the pace—writing very fast prose that slows down to add stunning and evocative descriptions. He also favours utilising elements of classic mythology. Stephen King focuses on flawed, traumatised characters with psychological issues—while there are usually supernatural elements in his books, they focus on the humans involved. Agatha Christie made great use of dialogue and heavy descriptions in the beginning to set the scene and then allowed the characters to move the story forward quickly. Suzanne Collins features strong, almost surreal, imagery, and Anne Rice writes with great detail and features a lot of taboo subjects.

This is by no means an exhaustive definition of writing styles. Style is something that writers develop over time and with practice. To figure out your style and solidify it, you need to write. Write different things in different genres; let yourself go and write the way that you want to write. The style will come.


Next: Dialogue

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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