Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What's Your Style?

I did one of those goofy online quizzes, "Which Famous Writer Do YOU Write Like" where you copy and paste a sample of your writing and the online generator comes up with an answer after careful calculations and analysis.

I write like: Chuck Palahniuk.  Author of "Fight Club."

These dumb quizzes are pretty pointless, but I was a little bored. But the funny thing is, this little online program was right on. My writing style is similar to Chuck Palahniuk. And what style would that be?  If I could describe my style, I would say I'm very much a minimalist.

In person, I love to talk. I talk for a living. I persuade for a living. I'm a talker. And I can talk. I can get verbose. At the end of the day, my voice is hoarse from talking.

But in my writing, I really try to keep my words to a minimum. I don't like reading long flowery paragraphs of description. One of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz, is guilty of this. I will read a few sentences to get an idea of the surroundings, but skip the rest to get on with the plot. Too much description brings a halt to any momentum.

So I don't write that way. I like to think of myself as a storyteller that happens to write down my stories. So my writing keeps with the oral tradition. I just want to get and keep your attention through my storytelling. I don't like adverbs. I use them, but I try to avoid them as much as possible. I like verbs. I like action words. I will give the reader a description of the environment, of what people look like, or what people are wearing through action. I weave it into the goings-on of my story.

But I keep the words and description to a minimum for one simple reason: I want the reader to fill in the blanks. Why spoon feed the reader? Allow a little room for imagination. Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero) and Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game) have been called literary lightweights because of the lack of flowery detailed prose and powerful vocabulary. But me personally, I love their style. It's to the point. It doesn't let words get in the way. They use words as tools, not as a way to flex literary muscle.

So this online quiz made me think about my style, which is something I don't really contemplate. But yeah, I write like Chuck Palahniuk.

What's your style?


delmer said...

Chuck Palahniuk... I had the hardest time finishing "Choke." Not because of the writing style, but the story.

Somebody had written in a blog post that he'd laughed so hard on a plane (while reading "Choke") that the guys next to him had given him questioning looks. I don't think I laughed once.

J. Noel said...

Yeah. I didn't read that book because it seemed twisted. Fight Club was about as twisted as I wanna get. Plus, I find stories that don't go in chronological order really confusing unless it's done very well.

J. Noel said...

By the way, the guy laughing while reading Choke...that's disturbing.

Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

That's funny; I'm the total opposite! In person I'm not liable to say a whole lot because I'm just like, "What are we doing here? Let's get this done." I'm a work first then play later kind of person when there's stuff to be done and I don't generally engage in much small talk unless it's appropriate to do so at the time. Though, it also depends on who I'm around.

However, my writing style is a lot more expansive and verbose. I have to work harder at making sure I'm not saying *too* much. I feel that sitting down to write gives me the opportunity to say all the things I never get to say because (1) I would most obviously be in the minority and no one would care or listen anyway, (2) people would stare at me funny if I did bring it up in person, or (3) it would be irrelevant at the time.

I don't mind more flowery writing, so long as it contributes to the success of the story being told and actually has something *happening*. That can be a real challenge combining both.

J. Noel said...

That is funny, Tiyana! Just from how you write, I guess I would've assumed you were a talker.

I don't dislike flowery writing, but when I'm engaged in the plot and the characters, when you stick two pages of pure description, it's a buzz kill.

On the other side, I like reading descriptive prose for its own sake. I love little written 'slices of life' writing too.

Tiyana, aka "Yoyo" said...

Heh, maybe it's just a given that a writer's style is opposite to how they are in real life? (Meh, probably not.)

Yeah, I think there's a time for flowery and a time for straight-up. During action sequences generally isn't the time to be showcasing your grandiose descriptions.

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