Friday, 8 May 2009

Style and technique

Spring has turned into a howling gale, so I'm done with the blossom pictures - there's hardly any blossom left!

This fire-engine turned up in our cul-de-sac this week. It seems someone had set the woods alight and this was the closest they could get to it. Can't have been much of a fire, thank goodness, since twenty minutes later they drove away.

Another incident was this rather large van trying to cross the too small bridge across the Tyne. There are large notices warning that the Victorian bridge is a mere 6 foot wide and there is a 3 ton weight limit on it, but these vans will try. This one couldn't even get on, and then caused chaos by reversing away from it with a queue of cars behind him.

But back to more writerly matters. Newbie authors/wannabee authors are often told 'read the line' or 'read the genre' to know what is required. There are certain difficulties with this, I find. First of all, the books we read are often two or three years old - but new enough to us - and the genre has changed and moved on in that time, especially since publishers are looking for something that will hit the shelves in one or two years time.

Also they always ask for something - you've guessed it - 'different.' Now I'm not saying that our plot would be identical to any particular published author, but if we learn the style of a famous author, and style is the thing we've been told to study, then how can we be different?

I suppose the answer would be 'learn the technique and develop your own style.' H'mmm. At first glance, style and technique seem very close. Sometimes, I suspect they might merge. At the othe end of the range, technique is a skill, a way of putting nouns and adverbs together so that the reader understands the message I want them to understand. Style is how it looks (reads).

For example, Dick Francis has a style I've mentioned before, applauding its brevity. Gabaldon has a style which is the exact opposite. Both are successful, both are suited to their particular genre, both are instantly recognizable. I think I've answered my own question - but what do you think?

1 comment:

Anita Davison said...

I agree, Jen. The trouble with trying to imitate a style or a genre, is that we are in danger of making all our novels the same. Individuality of writing is something we should cultivate - thenconvince the publishers that it's a good thing!

And yes, my poll got messed up on my blog so I had to remove it. Shame I had lots of responses too before it froze!