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.
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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