Many writers are worried about their style. They often apologize with phrases like, “I’m not really a writer,” and feel self-conscious about the words and phrases that they use.
If that describes you, this article will reveal a few ideas on writing well and creating your own style.
Choosing the right words and the right phrases is the key to great writing. In my 25 years as a professional writer, I’ve worked hard to create a style that fits me and fits my readers. And it really all comes down to two rules.
Rule #1: You want to communicate.
That’s why you’re writing in the first place – to communicate an idea or thought to another person. To do that, you have to keep it simple.
Rule #2: You must avoid making your writing obvious
Writing must never call attention to itself. It is the story – or idea – that is important, not the writing itself.
Let’s take a look at these two rules in more detail.
When I say that writing must communicate, here’s what I mean: You must have a crystal clear idea of what you want the reader to know after reading your work. What’s the goal or key point that you want to make? Whether you want the reader to buy your product, or simply enjoy a story, you will have an infinitely better chance of accomplishing that goal if you are clear about it first.
Then, write as simply as you can to get the point across. Certainly you can use imagery and certainly you want to use compelling emotional words, but in the end it has to be simple enough that somebody is going to read it and understand. You never want them lost in your words asking themselves, “What was that sentence again?”
The second rule is that you must avoid making your writing obvious. Let me give you an example.
When people come up to me sometimes and they say, “Mr. Franz, you are a great writer,” to me that’s nice to hear, but it is not a great compliment. There is a much, much better compliment than that – that’s when they come up to me and say, “Mr. Franz, I loved your story.”
If they say I’m a great writer, that means somewhere along the line my writing, my style took over from the idea I was trying to get across. And that’s not what I want.
I don’t want anybody to tell me I’m a great writer. The best writers are the ones that communicate so well, and get their message across so clearly, that no one even thinks about the writing. Really good writers work on rewriting and rewriting to make it simple and clear and to make it less bumpy and confusing for the reader.
You never want to try to be clever. Instead you want to strive to be clear. You will be surprised at how many people think you have a wonderful writing style the instant you stop working towards style and start writing clearly.