STYLE VERSUS VOICE: any ideas?
As writers, we talk about voice on a regular basis. It’s what makes you, you–unique and individual, separate from every other person who has written about the very thing you are now rehashing.
But what is it about you that makes you wear the red dress with purple tights and galoshes instead of jeans and a pullover? It’s style—you’re not less you one way or the other, but it’s a choice about how you’re presenting yourself to the world—today.
Are you humorous?
Some writers may prefer to write with one style, no matter what content they’re covering, while other’s prefer to match the style to the content.
Similarly, many writers may find themselves in style phases.
I’m quite sure that every writer (usually at the beginning of their writing career) has gone through the angsty phase; where no matter what they write about it reads like the performance of a teenage tantrum.
In any piece of writing you have three components: the physical words that you choose to use (voice), what the words say (content), and how the words are said (style).
Currently I’m curious about the juxtaposition of content and style. This is something that I use in dance all the time. Let’s say that you see a dance composition where the music, the movement, and the timing are all beautifully in sync, this would be a piece of writing where the content and the style are complementary.
But suppose now that you are sitting in a theater, the lights dim, the introduction for Swan Lake begins to play, but when the curtain comes the corps de ballet is dressed in matching pink velour sweat suits. Besides being rather strange, think for minute what seeing the swans thus attired might make you think, or feel.
This is one of the things style gives you as a writer. The ability to write between the lines, to create layers of meaning and perspective, without saying: “today Fluffy died, it was heartbreaking, but secretly she’s never been happier because now she’s free to travel the world and not worry about whether or not her parents will say yes to watching the dog.”
So without getting too long winded, and peppering this post with cliche statements like, “show, don’t tell.” Next time you sit down to write a eulogy to your dead dog, decide if you’re going to do it in your funeral attire, or a red dress and galoshes.
Guest post by Hilary Bowen.