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In one of the answers to a question of mine here, someone said that cadence does not depend on the sprung rhythm of a text, but on making emphasis fall on the right words. Well, I would like to ask for some elaboration on how to control my writing style. Exactly how do I write in a certain kind of voice?

I tried attending to metrical scansion and stress but that doesn't work. One book I read said to attend to phrases and junctures.

Can someone please help me with this as my writing is continually getting worse the more I try to achieve my preferred style.

I hope you don't tell me to simply write how I talk. That's not the answer I'm looking for.

Thank you.

  • I think no matter how you write, you'll always have your style. Because of that I don't think you should be asking: "How to control my style?". Instead look at tempo, look at the flow of the text, make sure your meaning is sound. The pause in readers mind must be delibarete and never happen without your consent. Ask yourself what are you trying to convey with a paragraph. Is character frozen in fear? Prolonge the sentences, make it seem like hours passed where only seconds did. Is character running for his life down the hill? Make sentences short and snappy, just like his steps must be. – dorijan5484 Sep 16 at 8:22
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This is a tricky one, as the advice would usually be "write however feels natural to you". But I want to help, so I'll try.

Writing, by its nature, is an art. It's subjective - especially when we're talking about a "style". A style isn't always quantifiable, like grammar for example. Style is nuanced and ambiguous, often difficult to put into words. It's almost like trying to paint in the style of Picasso. It might be physically possible, but it's unlikely that anyone would ever quite capture it. This is true of Picasso, or of any other writer, amateur or not. We each have a wide and unique collection of thoughts and memories and opinions that make up our specific voice. And this is a wonderful thing.

However, if your aim is to emulate a specific style, my advice would be to read that style as much as possible. Try reading it out loud. You won't necessarily gather a set of instructions ("I need to do X, Y, Z to achieve this style") - but you may start to develop a feel for the style. It might sink into your subconscious, to the point where you can comfortably reproduce it.

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Voice is highly individual --it's a large part of what makes your writing distinct, so there aren't really any rule-based ways to develop it. In fact, many of the strongest writers' voices break rules that are ironclad for other people.

I would recommend finding some writers whose voice you admire, and writing some pieces in imitation of them --not for publication, but just to get the feel of how voice changes the way things are expressed. Conversely, you could also try doing some very neutral-voice, rule-following writing, because it's hard to effectively break the rules until you've mastered them. You might also try writing poetry. Prose is not poetry, but most of the best prose writers have a poet hiding just under the surface.

Ultimately, however, you're just going to need to do a large quantity of writing until your voice develops. And ironically, it will probably be a two steps forward, one step backwards kind of dance, where you'll lose your voice before rediscovering it.

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The first thing to note is that making prose style sound too much like poetry doesn't make it sound right. It still has to sound like prose.

What I found useful was not so much consciously attending to the style structure as reading great stylists and writing imitations of them. Often horrendously bad imitations, but it helped master getting the words to leap through the hoops with grace.

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