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People often say writers have a 'style' or 'voice'. Does that mean your able to work out what your style of writing is?

If so, how would you work that out.

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This is a very broad question and a lot of thoughts come to my mind when trying to answer it.

Two things, however, are specially important to me : Read a lot. Write different things.

Read a lot because other writers' styles will bring you new ideas and narration techniques. Much like drawing style is influenced by visual artists we love (see all these teens drawing in manga style ? Mangas made them want to draw because they love the style, so they naturally draw things with the influence of what they like.), writing style will get its roots and key elements in your favourite pieces of writing. As writing style is a mix of your influences and your own perception, it will really help if you read a lot and especially from many different styles and authors. The more you find readings that makes you think "I like what the author did there" or "What a clever way of doing that !", the more your brain will be able to process these valuable information and produce its own clever ideas, plots, characters, ways of saying, etc.

Here comes my second advice :

Try to write a lot of different things. Take writing challenges, for instance :

Describe with as most details as possible the ugliest person you can imagine.

Tell a story about a potato wearing a hat.

Write the most boring text you can.

These are three challenges I once took from fellow writers on a community website and they all brought something to me and my style.

  • The first made me work my descriptions : what can you tell about a person's appearance and how to give the reader a certain impression about him ? How much details can you add in the description of a character ? How to link elements of description to imitate the narrator's look inspecting the character ? How to make the writing flow between these elements without just putting declarations one after another ?

  • The second one is a plain stupid topic. A potato wearing a hat really isn't an epic hero or a deep character. So how could I write a story about it ? I made a funny and absurd story out of it, which made me work my humorous writing and, as it was an absurd story, I had to adapt my style to fit it and then got new narration techniques. These techniques could be reused in other stories, other kinds of writings.

  • The third one may seem like a weird way to improve your style but actually, it made me wonder about what makes a text and a style boring. I had to totally break my style to come back to simple, stupid sentences and story. If you can find out what to remove in your style to make it boring then you know what to work out to make it great. This exercise is a great way to get self-awareness about your style.

Of course this is not just about writing challenges (although they are great). If you want to write novels for instance, consider giving a try to poetry, plays, or shorts stories. I don't say you should do this everyday but just sometimes, try writing something else and get out of your comfort zone. It will force you you think differently and will bring you awareness of writing techniques.

When you are aware of the techniques you use or can use, you can then chose how to apply them to guide your style towards certain directions of what you want it to be.


However, once again just as drawing style, you can hardly control your writing style to be exactly something. You can chose your influences and make choices about the narration (ways you draw things in the case of drawing) that will result in the kind of style that you want. But a writing style is ever changing, improving and is an abstract notion. There will always be a certain part of your style that you can't change.


I am an amateur writer, so my advices are not professional ones. Also, I am not a native English speaker (I write in French actually) so I apologize for spelling mistakes or bad formulation.

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I don't think your voice is chosen, it's what comes naturally from you. Therefore, it changes as you mature, as you read and write.

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I think a writer style or voice is something inner : you already have it, you just don't know how to express it. For that, you have to see and read other "voices", see what is possible to do, the different manners that exists, read, read and read, absorb all of it and let it age and then, when you've done enough reading : unlearn it all.

You have to, unless you just want to be a copycat of an other writer's style, or some kind of literary chameleon (I did it myself by stopping to read for a certain time, to avoid any further influence, and spending time thinking about what I wanted to write and how i wanted to do it)

In other words, your voice is just near to you, but you have to make a trip around the world to find it !

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