The mysterious question of style

I had a fabulous week at the writing retreat where I mostly… well.. wrote. That was exactly why I’d come, and it did fulfill all my expectations there. But not only that.

Getting to ask myself tough questions about how to write, and how to write well, was like an unexpected cherry on the cupcake. Brainstorming answers with other talented writers from diverse horizons opened up new avenues that I had never considered before.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about style and voice. Although I am very aware of style when it comes to other people’s text, these questions don’t come naturally to me regarding my own texts.

13434818_10153546139196363_3564516578708349722_nHow do I define my own style? Do I even have a style? I tend to see these questions in terms of stylistic choices, when building sentences, when choosing one word over another. I have a micro approach, so to speak, not a macro one.

I know what styles I like. When I read Pascal Garnier, something immediately clicked. Not only did I like his plots and characters, but his very direct style, ordinary yet very precise spoke to me. Nothing convoluted, nothing too elegant. Fred Vargas’ style is too fanciful for me (yet I do love her books!)

The writing retreat forced me to put words on the style I’m trying to achieve, especially in the latest story I wrote (and finished, woohoo! I told you words had been pouring!)

I received heaps of encouragement during the retreat, and the place we were staying at had a huge library where I checked out all the great noir masters I want to follow. Simenon, Pouy, Modiano (not noir but…) are on my list for the coming weeks and months. Manchette, Goodis are names I need to discover. I was reminded of the book by Francine Prose : Reading like a writer, which I plan to reread too. Anyone I’m missing?

As you can see, I have a whole summer full of gloomy reading and happy writing ahead of me! What about you?

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One thought on “The mysterious question of style

  1. Ah yeah, style’s such an elusive thing. And the worst bit is that even when you’ve nailed it down, you’re then at risk of becoming mannered — like, I love the way Maggie Stiefvater writes, but I also think there are times when she gets a little bit TOO Maggie Stiefvatery. It’s tough.

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