Literary style: What’s that? Simply stated, it’s the way an author chooses to write for her audience. It’s her method of personal expression. It reveals both the writer’s personality and voice. A writer may use more than one literary style. In determining her literary style for a given piece, a writer needs to consider her audience and whether her goal is to inform or entertain or both.
Many elements in a piece of fiction reveal an author’s literary style:
• Choice of words and their arrangement in sentences. Does an author favor simple words or big complex words? Does she prefer passive or active voice? Does she place the critical words at the beginning or end of a paragraph? An author may use words for their literal meaning (specific, concrete meaning) or for their associative meanings (figurative images, similes, metaphors, figures of speech).
• Use of associative words is a useful literary style in fiction. For example “dog” and “mongrel” convey very different images. “Pig” can be an animal or a greedy person. Similes and metaphors can convey clear images for a reader.
• Pace is another strategy for creating literary style. In depth descriptive passages or fast action sentences are style choices an author can make. Many authors rely on dialog to move their stories forward.
• Tone is an element of literary style. Witty humor, sarcasm, pessimism, optimism, romanticism can all be expressed in the manner in which a piece is written.
• Use of word sounds and rhythms connote style. Here are a few examples. Alliteration: Put a better bit of butter on your bread. Assonance: The blue balloon flew into the school. Onomatopoeic words like boing, ding, buzz, fizz, meow, woof.
An author’s literary style stems from her choices based on her purpose for writing a given piece. What’s neat is the huge variety of choices available to her.
More on Literary Style: