My question is this: Can a writer change her style? Is style a fundamental thing, a part of a writer’s nature or is it malleable; subject to change? Can we/should we try to change that which is inherent in our writer’s soul, or am I making all this up?
I keep hearing, over & over, that I’m a good writer but that my writing is too quiet; too literary for the current market. I revise and edit, seeking to pick up the pacing, etc. but my style is my style. Even I can see that I lean towards introspective mood pieces, even with all kinds of action and tension and plot shifts woven in. I consider myself a teachable and flexible person, totally open to change. If I’m missing the point somewhere, I’d really like to know.
Thank you so much for your time, and for your interesting insights on the blog.
Best to you,
Dear Lord, this is a good question. Can a leopard change her spots? Can styled be learned? How do I make more noise? Am I missing the point? I only know that I’ve seen writers vastly improve over time. Does this mean they have changed their style? Probably not. In my experience, your so called style is as intrinsic to you as the gait of your walk, your handwriting, the kink of your hair. I think there is something essential about style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. In fact, you SHOULD improve. When I think about the career of any artist over time, I see their essential style emerge in work after work. Philip ROth’s style has basically stayed constant though his novels became more complex from a structural point of view and then deeper, more emotionally complex and more emblematic too. Writers who experiment with different genres can seem to deploy a different set of stylistic chops. Capote comes to mind and more recently Denis Johnson. And yet… If you are frustrated with your style or simply aren’t getting the response you want from the world, then it behooves you, of course, to take a serious look at how you approach your work, or even as an experiment to try non-fiction if your fiction is fizzling, or to write some short stories from the point of view of someone very different from yourself, or a poem. Or a letter. Or to start reading and write a paper as if you were in the tenth grade and had to figure out what made it tick.
Any advice here?
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