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How to Identify (and Own) Your Writing Style

Before you can write that bestselling novel, you need to find and embrace your voice.

By
QDT Editor

Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Virginia Woolf—each of these authors has a unique writing style that has contributed to his or her success. Burgeoning writers aspire to these examples, but if you are one such writer, you might be confused about how to begin. Everyone has a distinct writing style; the key lies in knowing how to identify and own it.

Read Good Writing

All great writers are avid readers. Writers who are searching for their personal style should be avid readers too. Read frequently and across a variety of genres. Note those sentences, pages, or full texts that you like most, and ask yourself, “Why does this appeal to me?” Is it the author’s use of a particular word, or the rhythm of a specific paragraph? If you dislike a selection, why? Style is a combination of tone and voice, and it can be helpful to keep these elements in mind when you read. 

Choose an Audience

Most writing is intended to be read—even if by a single person—and learning to recognize your audience can aid you in identifying your unique style. If you pen children’s books, your style might rely on simple sentences and highly descriptive phrases. If you compose annual reports for a pharmaceutical company, your style might revolve around concise language and declarative sentences. A great writing style is also an effective writing style, but it can only be as effective as your audience finds it.  

Practice Constantly

Your writing style can't be built in a day. Instead, an engaging writing style is the result of extended experimentation. Practice is key. The more you write, both in terms of frequency and quantity, the better you will become. When you finish an email, memo, or poem, read it aloud. What sounds natural? Which sentence constructions and word choices resonate with you? Which are you happy to avoid in the future? Use this feedback to inform the decisions you must make while writing your next document.

Evolve Over Time

Our writing styles continue to change as we change. Your style will evolve over time—new favorite authors and new writing projects can affect it, as can audience reaction. Great writers strive to remain flexible. Follow your instincts, and if you feel that a given structure or tone no longer suits your purpose, trust yourself to try something new. Revision is a natural part of the writing process, and you can always modify or remove something that proves unsuccessful.

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Caroline Duda is an Online Marketing Coordinator for Varsity Tutors, the leading curated marketplace for private tutors. The company also builds mobile learning apps, online tutoring environments, and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies.

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