On Being an Expert in Your Own Writing Style

Expertise is a weird concept. It can’t really be quantified, but it’s used to qualify pretty every facet of life, at least in terms of a person’s performance in a particular role, or with a particular skill.

When I was unemployed, I gave a lot of thought to my own expertise, mostly related to my professional career, but also my writing career. It might be difficult to identify your own expertise in anything. That kind of label is likely bestowed upon you by others. Anyone can call themselves an expert in something, but when someone else calls you an expert — that’s a good sign you’re headed in the right direction.

Expert storytellers, expert editors, expert linguists or “wordsmiths”. These are the types of qualifiers used to describe respected authors. It may seem strange to refer to yourself as such — I definitely do not feel like I’ve earned any of these — but you should at least be an expert in your own writing.

Know Your Writing Style

Once you’ve written more than one story, with different characters, different settings, maybe in a different world, you start to notice your own writing quirks.

If you’re writing your first story, it may be hard to identify your writing style. You’re just trying to get words onto paper and figure out how to build a narrative. And that’s okay.

But I think here are still some ways you can reflect on your writing and pick out your style — and enhance it. Think about the following patterns in your writing style.

  1. How do you describe characters?
  2. How do you describe settings?
  3. Is your dialogue short and direct, or long and flowery?
  4. Do your characters use a lot of mannerisms or facial expressions when they talk?
  5. Are your scenes broken up by chunks of more expository or narrative writing?
  6. Are your chapters or sections a consistent length, or does each one vary by more than a few pages?

Become the Expert in Your Style

There are no right or wrong answers to any of the above questions, but thinking about as you write can help you pick out your tendencies.

For instance, I tend to start character descriptions at the eyes, at least when the characters are standing near each other. I like reading people’s eyes when I talk to them, trying to understand their mood or their mindset, and I’ve projected that interest into a lot of my characters.

I also tend to use two ways of describing setting: I either use the POV character’s senses to “see” their immediate surroundings, or I take a broader view, almost looking down on the character from above to provide more of an atmospheric description.

Once you understand your tendencies, you can start to vary them so your writing doesn’t become stale or predictable. This can also just make your writing more interesting to you. After all, there are only so many ways to describe a forest.

I like to describe my characters’ facial expressions and mannerisms as they speak to liven up the dialogue. However, I’ve found that short, direct dialogue with little description can be used to pick up the pace of the story.

Understanding that initial tendency and trying to change it up depending on the situation has helped me create urgency in scenes that require it, or slow down and lean on more detailed conversations that really enliven the characters.

During your revision or editing sessions, try to pay a bit of attention to these types of questions and understand your own habits as a writer. You may decide to alternate your style depending on the scene, the character, or the story. If you’re happy with what you find and want to reinforce a certain pattern, then that’s great, too.

As long as you’re becoming an expertise in your writing style, it will feel natural to your readers.

Steve D

Pre-2020 Goals and Ideas

For whatever reason I’ve been thinking a bit about my writing and publishing goals for next year, including my goals for this site. That, of course, leads me into thinking about what I want to do with this site in general.

I’m not going to write my full book marketing goals post for 2020 yet, because it’s 11pm on a Monday, and it’s not quite 2020. However, I’d like to set the stage a bit for how I may approach the coming year, and get some thoughts onto virtual paper. Continue reading “Pre-2020 Goals and Ideas”

December Write Day: NaNo is Over, but I barely Noticed

I’m sensing a pattern here, in that each month seems to pass more quickly than the last.

This post is a week late because I wanted to finish “The Grand Mythos”, so we’re already almost halfway through December. Oh well.

November was solid. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and we had a nice time with family, but I’ve also taken some interesting steps on the writing front.

Not only did I finish publishing my mythic fantasy series, but I’ve also started writing my short story. Continue reading “December Write Day: NaNo is Over, but I barely Noticed”

Reflections on Another Completed Story: "The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan"

As you might have seen on Friday, I just posted the twelfth and final chapter of “The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan, Volume One” on Wattpad, so I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last year of publishing with Wattpad, as well as the writing of these stories. Continue reading “Reflections on Another Completed Story: "The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan"”

The Finale: "The Grand Mythos" Chapter 12

I’m really stoked to finally release the final chapter of “The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan, Volume One”. Somehow it doesn’t feel like that long ago that I started publishing this story on Wattpad, but it’s been almost a year.

I intend to write a full retrospective post both on this story and my Wattpad experience this year, but just know that I’m really proud of this story, and I want you to read it.

Wattpad is free, which means you can read my story and a ton of other great stories just by creating an account and downloading the app (or just reading on your computer).

There is no Volume Two yet, but I’m already forming ideas around what that might entail. For now, I have other things to work on.

Genre: fantasy, high fantasy, mythic fantasy

Chapter Blurb: The First Life fulfill its true purpose, but to what end?

Series Blurb:

Every world has its origin story.

The vibrant world of Úr’Dan and the powerful beings who created it are eager to find life in the cosmos. But their untested powers will clash as they each strive to bring their vision of the universe to fruition–and control the wondrous creatures who live there. Witness the creation of a vibrant new world.

Based on the unique fantasy universe of the novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento.

As always, this story is free to read on Wattpad:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/163684352-the-grand-mythos-of-%C3%BAr%27dan-volume-one

Thank you for reading if you have been, and even if you haven’t, thanks for following my progress.

Steve D

Aaaand it's the holidays

I had intended to finalize the 12th and last chapter of “The Grand Mythos” on Monday and post it to Wattpad, but I had some online shopping to do.

I generally avoid the consumerist craze known as The Holidays, but we’re doing a fun gift exchange with my in-laws this year, and I wanted to get something on a deal.

The short version is there are too many options, I’m indecisive, and I’m probably overthinking what my intended giftee will think of their main gift. Buuuut… it’s 10:30pm as I write this and I really don’t want to stay up all night writing a real post.

So you all will get chapter 12 and the attendant announcement post this week. For now, have an impressive Evanescence cover.