There is a tendency for new writers to think that they have to try their hardest at sounding poetic or brilliant. This can come across as very stilted and forced, and makes the reader turn off instantly. Think back to your favourite book: did the writing come across as though the writer was trying hard? The best writing is writing that feels natural. Here are a few tips to see if your writing style really is the best fit for you:
- Get someone else to read your work. Before you begin to query agents and publishing houses, it’s a good thing to get someone else to read your work. When writing something, it can be quite hard to distance yourself from the work to see any problems with it. After all, after having worked on it for so long, it can be difficult to see if there any errors with it. Getting someone else to read it for you can highlight things that you might have missed.
- Speak it out loud. If you don’t want to have someone else read your work yet, a good way to see if your writing is coming across as too stilted is to read it out loud. You’ll be able to hear whether the flow of the writing is natural or not, and highlight sections of the narrative that need work.
- Read something else. It might sound counterproductive to read something else to find your own natural writing style, but it can help to see other styles of writing to feel what fits and what doesn’t. For example, some writers might find that they want to write in the same vein as Zadie Smith or Jonathan Franzen, whereas some might find themselves more aligned to that of Salman Rushdie. Others might go for a simpler telling of events, such as the writing found in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, or perhaps a more easily-digestible style such as that of Nicholas Sparks. The only way to find out what style works for you is to read more books.
- Take a step back. If you can’t figure out whether or not your writing style is the best fit for you, it’s always a good idea to distance yourself from the writing. It might be a good idea to leave the manuscript for a few days, to clear your head from it. When you return to it, it’ll be easier to see whether or not your style is working.
Considering that the writing style of your narrative will be one of the biggest factors in making a reader continue reading, it’s important to make sure that you know what works for you.