March 7th, 2017


Writing Excuses 12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style

Writing Excuses 12.10: Developing Your Own, Personal Style


Key Points: Voice or style comes in three flavors: mechanical, aesthetic, and personal. We need to learn to trust our personal style. But don't worry about it? You probably won't know you have it, even if everyone else can see it. When you try to mimic someone else's style, you mostly mimic aesthetic voice. Personal voice is in part word choice, but beyond that, what you choose to talk about and how you talk about it. Even a transparent or translucent prose style can be a personal style! Overriding copyeditors may be part of your personal style. But beware of overrunning character styles with your personal style.
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[Brandon] Dan, you have our homework this week.
[Dan] Yes. So, one of the ways that you can start to identify what your own voice is, is to take something written by somebody else, and… Ideally, this would be something you don't like. So a book that you didn't really enjoy or whatever. Because you want to fix it. It feels wrong to you, it feels awkward. I want you to take that, and then rewrite it, and rewrite it in a way, going back to what Mary was saying earlier, where the main character is you, or someone very like you. Someone from your background. To make sure that it is really your voice coming through, in the narration or the dialogue or however you want to do it. Then, once you've done that rewrite, you'll have a chance to see, "Oh, that obviously came from me, because it wasn't in the original."

[Mary] So, hey. I just wanted to add one thing that we skimmed past in this episode. We mentioned the #ownvoices movement and we didn't actually explain what that was. The #ownvoices movement is a movement that was begun with a hashtag started by Corinne Duyvis... Duyvis, excuse me. The idea was that people who have a lived life experience… That if you're looking for a book about a disabled person, that you should buy a book that's written by a disabled person. If you're looking for a book about an African-American person, you should buy a book written by an African-American person. And that sometimes people can get displaced because it's very easy to just buy a book by an author that you're familiar with. So the idea was that you get a more authentic experience if you are reading a book that is written by someone in their own voice. I felt like I did want to just explain where that movement came from, and you should actually read some more about it. Just searching on the hashtag #ownvoices will give you a lot of information. Just wanted to share that with you.

[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.