What’s your style?
The above is a question that I find myself grappling with now that I’ve started on a short story. For the longest time, I could not write anything because I didn’t seem to have my own voice, my own style. The standard narrative style seemed just too bland for me but that’s about all that I seemed to be able to manage when I thought of writing something. Then I wrote my first novel and I found my voice.
I discovered that a dry, humorous style of narration is what suited me best. I’d used a variation on this during my days of writing non-fiction for newspapers. I used to have a self-deprecating/self-insulting style which poked fun at my own pronouncements and the readers seemed to love it So, I was simply going back to the same roots and this seemed the right place to be. Of course, there were the inevitable comparisons with Terry Pratchett. Now, I didn’t want to be called just another Pratchett imitator, trying to cash in on what I perceived to be a good market. That wasn’t my intention at all. That just happened to be the style I wrote in and I’d written that way (at least for non-fiction) long before I discovered Terry. But that’s beside the point …
The real point is that I wrote my first novel and it had a fairly consistent voice. It was dryly humorous all the way through. Then I sat down to write my second novel and I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off a second time. Could I be that humorous a second time? Could I find ways not to have the same old jokes again? Could I even remember which jokes had been used where? I wasn’t too sure anymore. Of course, I got through only about 2-3 pages of the second novel before I put that away to write the short stories but I wasn’t really happy with the tone of the second novel. It didn’t have the same kind of easy flow as the rest – something was missing.
Now the short stories, they don’t have much humour at all. I am excited about the one I’m writing at the moment because I feel that the world the story is set in has potential and that I can do a whole bunch of stories set in that world. But does it have the same style as the novel? Not at all. This one’s straight story telling – more Asimov than Pratchett. So I find myself wondering again, what is my style?