Bloggers, Authors: the benefits of an ornate style and complex structure in your writing

If writing were architecture...

If writing were architecture…

This post is a companion piece, upon request, to yesterday’s post about the benefits of a simple style and simple structure in your writing.

Now, I love my simple structure and my short sentences. I think they’re easy to follow, and writing the way I do keeps me organized and keeps my thoughts flowing. It’s what comes naturally to me.

Of course, not everyone writes that way, and not everyone should. Some writers are gifted with the ability to write long, flowing, beautiful sentences that also make sense and don’t force their readers to go back and have to read them two or three times in order to decipher their meaning.

Some writers can craft extended, unique, truly inspired metaphors that are engaging and exciting.

Some writers have a knack for building up rather than cutting down. In contrast, my instinct has always been to simplify my writing. That’s what comes naturally to me when I edit.

My writing is more like this: simple and plain, but solid and clear.

My writing is more like this: simple and plain, but solid and clear.

The important thing about style is that you stick with your natural inclinations, because they indicate where your talents are. Neither a simple nor a baroque structure is inherently better than the other. They each have their positives. For instance, if you naturally find yourself writing glowing and lengthy descriptions, you might find:

  • For you, writing is a bit like painting with words. You love writing for the creative license and the freedom it gives you to  explore every nook and cranny of a subject. You are an experimenter. You take risks with words, and that thrill is what keeps you writing. You leave no stone unturned, and no potential unfulfilled.
  • You draw connections between things that writers like me can’t think to. The basis of your art lies in powerful imagery and figurative language. Your metaphors and similes connect objects people wouldn’t normally put together. Those connections, nonetheless, are logical and powerful, and they can lead you and others to deep contemplation about the world and about life.
  • You are able to paint a clear image of your characters and their world for your readers. Some writers prefer to leave many aspects of character and setting to the reader’s discretion. You, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about how your reader might interpret the layout of a room, for instance. You tell them what’s there.
  • You see the value in the grunt work of writing. In its foundations. You are able to impress others and make art not only with the story you’re telling, but also with how you weave your tale. You understand and draw focus to the beauty and the raw potential of language. Sentences aren’t building blocks or work for you; they’re a puzzle to fit together.

Again, as I leave off this topic of style that I’ve been delving into the last few days, remember that no matter how you write, your style is not inferior or superior to anyone else’s.

The key is to be true to who you are and to focus on exploiting the benefits of your personal style, whether your tendency is to keep things short and sweet or to go all out with lots of dependent clauses and “all the fixins,” as we say down south in Faulkner land.

Take advantage of the opportunities your directness or your ornate style afford you, and keep the disadvantages in mind, to limit their impact on your writing.

What disadvantages? I’ll go into those over the next two days, so make sure to keep stopping by.

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24 responses to “Bloggers, Authors: the benefits of an ornate style and complex structure in your writing

  1. Do you think it has to do with the focus of an author as well? I concentrate a lot on character development and action, so I try to paint as detailed a picture as I can. Maybe that’s why I lean more toward the Faulkner method.

    • I think the reasons a person might lend toward ornate writing are many and probably vary from person to person. It sounds like for you it’s all about character development and action. That makes perfect sense.

      For me, writing with a plainer style is all about character as well: I don’t want my style distracting from what the characters are doing and who they are.

  2. Thank you for this post, Victoria!

    I finally made a connection in my mind when I read “You take risks with words.” I had a reviewer hate some of my phrases, but I realize now that we may come from very different writing styles. I love to play with language. I feel good about that and don’t intend to stop. At least I’m prepared to take criticism for it now. 🙂

    • good for you! playing with language is a great learning tool and a wonderful creative outlet. And no matter how you write, there will be people who don’t like what you write. So definitely, write how you want to and keep doing what you do 🙂

  3. im not sure what my writing style is. i always thought i was a straight forward writer but maybe not?

    • As long as what you’re doing works for you, you’re all right either way 🙂 the key is not to fight who you are. And you’re not fighting that, if you’re not deliberately trying to change the way you write.

  4. Lisa W England

    VIctoria, this is a fantastic and affirming post. As a writer, I tend more toward a complex style, which many of my readers tell me they appreciate. It would not work for everyone . . . but it’s how I think. Every characteristic you describe is me! When I start trying to destruct that complexity in order to make things “simpler,” I am really unsatisfied with the writing. That being said, I do have to maintain a close connection to the most appropriate audience to be sure they aren’t confused.

    • Audience is key; that’s a great point. We should all seek out beta readers from our target audience. The fact is, whether we write plainly or in a baroque style, there will be people who don’t like our stuff. Focusing on ourselves and our target audience is the way to go. Thanks for that comment, Lisa! I’m glad you found the post affirming! 🙂

  5. I like the contrast of your last post and this one…simple style, ornate style. What is important is developing your own style by playing with both simple and ornage (or in between) and deciding which one feels right for you. I love your posts. They make me think.

    • Thanks, Janice! I love what you say about developing your own style. It really is a spectrum, and few people really can (or should) write as ornately as Faulkner or as plainly as Hemingway. I love playing with the in between, though I always end up closer to the plainer side of things.

  6. “No matter how you write, your style is not inferior or superior to anyone else’s. The key is to be true to who you are and to focus on exploiting the benefits of your personal style.” Truer words were never spoken! A writer’s unique style and voice are what makes reading that writer’s work such an enjoyable experience.

  7. I write in a similar style as you do. I like to keep it simple and get to the point. Too much complexity will annoy most readers. And humans naturally have a very short attention span.

  8. Thanks for your encouragement. Sometimes, after reading what others have written, I am tempted to try to copy their style. To realize that there is no right or wrong style…so long as it is my style…that helps!

  9. Pingback: Authors, Bloggers: The Pitfalls of A Simple Style | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

  10. Pingback: Dear Writer: Lots of Words or Few, Which Is Right? | Notes from An Alien

  11. Pingback: What Is Writing Style All About? | This Craft Called Writing

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