Welcome back to AuthorHouse Author’s Digest, and part two of our tips for developing your writing style. In part one, we talked about imitating authors that you admire, using strong verb forms, and avoiding run-on sentences and adverbs.
In this article, we’ll discuss making allusions to other great works of literature, telling a story within a story, choosing your narrative voice, and using comparison and contrast.
Make references to images and characters from great works of literature like the Bible, Huckleberry Finn or Shakespeare’s works. You can also use a direct quote from another book. Readers like to feel smart! When you use allusions to other books, your readers will feel clever when they understand them.
Write a story within a story.
Or you could write a story within a story within a story. This is an old but easy literary technique, and it’s an excellent way to write interesting stories with multiple plots. One of the best examples of this is Arabian Nights, in which Scheherazade tells the Sultan a different story every night.
Choose a point of view for your story.
Decide which point of view or narrative voice you will use to tell your story. Third person narrative voice is probably the most common point of view, and it’s also the easiest. This is when you use he, she or they to tell your story. This type of story can be told from several different characters’ points of view.
First person narrative voice is also common. This is when you tell your story using I (and possibly we), and the reader sees the story through the experiences of one character.
Second person narrative voice (using you) is the rarest point of view and also the most difficult to use, aside from instruction manuals: You should keep your camera out of extreme hot or cold areas.
Check out Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City for an example of second person in action (although even there the narrator is referring to himself–using a first-person point of view while using the second person pronoun).
Use comparison and contrast.
Using comparison and contrast is an excellent way to show your readers the similarities and differences within a topic. A good example of this is the opening line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which is full of comparison and contrast:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
These are just a few aspects of creating your own unique writing style, but they should be enough to get you started.