Good morning, folks! 😀 I know it’s Monday, but don’t hide under your duvets. Just think of it as Tuesday Eve. 😛
Now, I’ve got today’s blog post below, but first I want to share some awesome (well, to me at least) news with you guys! I’m a suspense/horror SEMI-FINALIST in The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards, with Vigilante Of Shadows! Okay, so I didn’t make the top 5, but I’m still ecstatic that my little book was good enough to be noticed for at least semi-finalist. 😀 And IN the top 5 is a book from one of my best writer friends, Trish Marie Dawson! (Her book is I Hope You Find Me, and I suggest you pick it up ASAP. It is an amazing book, and the reason I ever got to know the lovely lady herself.) So go, Trish! 🙂
What’s your style as a writer? No, I don’t mean all those little gorgeous additions you put in afterwards, like chapter headings and such. What I mean is…would someone pick your book up, and instantly know it was yours? There are certain writers in the world whose style is so well known, that even under pen names, you know who they are. (Clears throat over a certain recent crime thriller) It’s not about good or bad, or who likes it and who doesn’t – it’s about adding to your brand. We as indie authors do so much to ‘brand’ our Facebook pages, our Twitter pages, our covers, our marketing…that sometimes we forget the strongest ‘branding’ is the very style of our writing.
So how do you know if you have a style? What sets your books apart from everyone else’s? It can be a certain way you write, how you describe things, or even the very structure of your plotlines. Let’s pick that apart a bit more, huh? 😛
This can be a good thing, or a bad thing. There are authors who describe too much – this is also ‘style’, whether it’s right or wrong – and then they are known for stretching out how a sofa looks over two pages. But by the same token, writers can be known for not describing enough. Too short, and the writer feels like they’re rushing through the rabbit hole with a jet-pack on. So after you’ve got the length of descriptions right, what else are you going to tweak about it? Well, it really comes down to what you like as a writer, as you are going to stuff away those tit-bits for later and recycle your own version. A big clincher for me with any book is character descriptions, I can’t get enough of them. I think (I hope!) this comes across in my books, as I always enjoy a character-driven story just a hint more than a story-driven one. So how you describe your characters can have a big impact on your style. I like to include facial movements a lot. And the eyes can be a true window into how anyone is feeling. If someone twitches, what is it for? If someone’s mouth curls, what kind of smile is it? I like to lead the reader through the tiny details, the ones we won’t miss when we’re actually stood having a conversation with a real person.
So, the next point – how do you lay out your plotline? Is it linear, or non-linear? for my books, I like them to spiral off in many directions at once, joining together at the end to give the conclusion. I’ve tried NOT to do it, but it seems to be a natural thing – so I’ve accepted it as my ‘style’. I write primarily in third-person (I’m not sure how it could be done successfully in first-person, but I’m sure someone has done it 🙂 ), so it allows me to be a fly-on-the-wall of many different characters, giving the reader a view that the character themselves may not have. If you already know what the villain is planning, and the heroes are walking into the trap – what will happen next? It also allows for a lot of explaining in parts that every character can’t be at. (A recent historical series on the TV, based on a certain Plantagenet family, is a good example. It was written from the POV of one female character, which meant it was very difficult to accurately tell the reader what happened with certain battles.) Or is your style linear? Do you lead the reader down a winding path, with curiosities along the way? The way you structure a story can add a lot to your branding, as generally readers will always prefer one way or the other.
What do you re-use in your books? Now, I don’t really mean using the same structure for another book, and changing the names – I’m pretty certain that’s NOT the way to go. 😀 But do you have a set of rules for characters? Are the heroes always a ‘type’ or person, are the heroines? I like to have strong men and women in my books, but they always have flaws – sometimes severe ones. I’m interested in how a person’s past can affect them too, so I like to either throw in a flashback to their past, or have them telling someone. Sometimes I let the reader guess why they are the way they are right until the end. My villains are never black and white either, as everyone has some good in them. They’re nearly always definitely the ‘bad guy’, but I like to give them redeeming features – sometimes, my ‘bad guys’ can end up helping the good guys, if only for a while. This just happened at the end of Keeper Of Shadows. So how do you write your characters? Do they have a particular ‘style’ of their own? Is there something about your characters that would let someone know they reading a ‘By So-And-So’ book?How can you make them yours? Use something about them that makes them ‘yours’ – after all, they live in your head! 😀