On writing

Analysing our writing style

My writing partner, Sherylyn, and I both have different writing styles.

I would characterise her style as humorous, light and somewhat distant. She’s an easy read, and puts more description and more emotion into her stories. I am a little heavier —but still by no means heavy —with lots of dialogue but not much extraneous description. What description I do include is mostly about what the point-of-view character sees and feels. There is definitely less emotion.

Obviously, combining these styles gives us the best of both.

Added to this, neither of us is heavy on internal monologues. We both use the same type of language, simpler rather than dense. When we write we simply let the words flow and what comes out at the end needs editing to make it work.

Although we have written together for so long, we both have different things that need fixing in our first drafts. If I had to pick one thing for each of us I would say the for Sherylyn it’s cliches. Her writing is full of them. For me it’s unlikeable characters.

Sherylyn starts with good characters but her first drafts include a lot of unnecessary phrases. To use a really bad, made-up example, she would write something like, “And then they were gone, like puffs of dust on the wind,” when all she needs to say is, “And then they were gone.” Editing these is easy.

My problems are not so easy to fix. Often, when I do the first drafts, my characters are miserable, self-centred and downright unlikeable. Definitely not someone you would want to spend an entire book with.

Maybe it’s a reflection of my own personality. I hope not. The characters are generally wimps, and spend the whole book feeling sorry for themselves.

The thing is, I can’t see how bad they are until someone else points it out. Even then, it takes a lot of convincing and two or three more drafts before we have something we both like.

The end result depends on whether it’s something we are writing together or something that we are writing on our own. If it’s our own, we restrict our edits and comments to necessary changes (or what we think is necessary, at least). If we are writing a piece together, ideas come into the mix too, and we inject our own ideas into the other person’s writing. Once we do that we end up with a style that is neither one nor the other, but is generally something we are both happy with.

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