Style and voice, as a writer you hear about these two things all the time, usually within the same breath. Some wonder if they are in fact the same thing, but they aren’t. Each is separate from the other, but both rely on each other to make a story great. It’s a marriage of two separate elements that when brought together make your writing sparkle.
So what is style and voice exactly?
Style, in short refers to the shaping of sentences and structure that makes your story a work of art. This is where reading writing books come in handy. The more you know about how words, sentences, paragraphs, grammar, and punctuation work, the better you can find a style that works for you. Style even encompasses the ordering of ideas and flow of words, which crosses over into the domain of voice and it’s why voice can be confused as style.
Voice, refers to the emotional context and perspective that is unique to you. It is how the words are painted on the page as they express the inner artist inside. Voice is not something that can be taught or learned from a book. It is something that must be discovered by each writer. It doesn’t come easy and it happens when you least expect it. Each writer has his own distinct style and voice. You see it when you read and you marvel at its beauty and wonder how you can achieve the same thing for yourself. I recently discovered my voice and am working on crafting my style. How did I do it?
I started with a short story I had written on throughout the year. I would write on it, set it aside and write on it again. In the process, I found that my writing became clearer and more distinct. I focused on showing the reader my story instead of telling. I made the words come alive for myself, and in doing so, transformed them into something I could channel as my own. The key is to keep writing a piece over and over again until the words begin to speak the way you want them to, hence why it is called voice.
Why are style and voice so important? It makes the story interesting and breaths originality into a story. Without it you would have a story that reads… See Dick run. See Jane jump… Some writing might require that sort of simple quality, but for the most part, people fall in love with stories, not because of the stories themselves, but because of the way the author makes them feel and experience the story.
Want to learn more about writing style? Check out The Elements of Style by William Struk Jr. It’s a great book to keep on hand and goes over proper presentation and styles of writing.