Let’s talk about writing style. Almost as important as the actual content. Two stories with essentially the same subject matter but with different writing styles are effectively completely different. Finding your style, for lack of a better phrase, makes your work unique. Things like word choice, fluency and voice contribute to this. But rather than treat you like you don’t know what I’m talking about, I want to talk about why I think it’s important. But just in case you don’t, check out this quick article by Kathleen Cali with Learn NC.
Being able to directly control how the audience sees your world is so critical to good story telling. You can explain give little information or all the information. You can do it in first-person or third-person. You can literally do whatever the hell you want. This should, without a doubt, be the among your top priorities.
Take the novel I’m reading at the moment for an example, Ready Player One. At first, I was really turned off from the read because the style and voice prefers a telling technique in lieu of showing. Essentially, there’s just pages and pages of information and exposition that if it weren’t for the subject matter, I probably wouldn’t read it.
While it makes logical sense for the novel to be presented this way given the circumstances of the protagonist and his point of view, it lacks appeal, in my opinion. I would have preferred an in media res tactic (as I typically do with storytelling) but I understand I would’ve missed a lot of important and vital background material. Sacrifices must be made. But given the novel that’s written toward a specific audience (gamers and geeks, an audience of which I am a part), Ernest Cline expertly mixes in treasures troves of increasing nerdiness with the exposition to keep the reader entertained.
Which brings us to my point in talking about style. It’s important to recognize the target audience and write for them. To entertain them. It goes without saying that a writer is nothing without his/her readers, so give them what they want every once in a while. But you shouldn’t be afraid to throw in a surprise or two either. Your unique style can potentially tell the reader so much more than explicit details within the prose. But more importantly, you can help the reader see things exactly the way you do.