Heyo! Welcome to this week’s Monday Muse!
So. Style. We all have it. It’s in the way we dress, the way we speak, the way we interpret and interact with everything around us, all the time. It is a large part of the definition of each of us as individuals. A person’s style is their calling card, like leaving a rose at the scene of a crime.
For crazy writer-types like me, style isn’t just my calling card, it’s who I am. It’s the definition of C, Author. When it comes to telling stories, your style is how you interact with the literary world; it’s how you land a publishing deal (if you want to go the trad-pub route, of course, but that is a discussion for another day) and how your readers will come to know you. The compact you create between yourself and your reader — the writer writing and the reader, well, reading — is based pretty much entirely upon your style. Take Neil Gaiman, for example; that’s a man with style. It doesn’t matter if he’s writing for kids, adults, the crustacean market (I’ve been reading Thursday Next…sorry)… you know you’re reading a Gaiman. Even when writing superhero comics (check out his Marvel 1602), Gaiman is Gaiman.
And his fans love all of it. People who don’t usually read comics enjoy his comics. Well, everyone loves Sandman. They’re amazing. But I digress. American Gods is not Neverwhere is not Coraline or The Ocean at the End of the Lane. But they’re all Gaiman, and his fans follow him for it.
That’s the style I’m talking about.
Readers of this here blog know a bit about my style. You see it every time I post. And I’m not talking about voice, though that is part of it. The way I write when I’m writing this blog is my “conversational” tone. It’s exactly the way I would write if I were chatting with you on social media… and quite possibly in person. My voice when I’m writing a novel/play/short story/what have you changes based on the story. I did not write Killing Mercutio (the novel, in case anyone managed to forget) the same way I’m writing Sci-Fantasy Brigadoon (which is a working title that…really is quite fitting), but Merc has a lot in common with Fall the God. It depends on whether I feel the need to get super serial up in this… uh… whatever. Moving on.
What does this mean? It means you’ve got to find the thing that makes you…you. The element of yourself that will infuse everything you write, even if the stories themselves could probably go in different sections of the bookstore. The thing that makes people go, “Oh yeah, that sounds like _____! I love *insert pronoun of choice*!” Here at Nerd Cactus? It’s a flair for literary fangirling. All of our ideas have literary backbones (well, OK, there’s the TV show and the one novel…). Mercutio is obviously Shakespeare, but loads of our favorite classical authors find their way into our stuff. Me as a solo writer? Some combination of history, politics, fantasy, and mythology (and sometimes folklore) will inevitably end up at the heart of my stories. Sometimes, as with Fall the God, they’re all there and I can make up really pretentious-sounding genres like mytho-historical political fantasy. Isn’t that fun? I love it.
So… just like that guy who always wears the coolest hats or the girl who has a signature pair of red pumps (or reversed, I’m cool with whatever)… all us writers gotta find our inner style maven and let her out.
So. Give it a think and get back to us. What’s YOUR personal style?
ps- I want to thank my wonderful writing group for this topic. Discussing it earlier is what inspired the blog. Y’all are awesome!
pps- Everybody ought to have a
maid writing group. They really are indispensable!