My Writing Style

by Matt on August 13, 2012

Hello, hello. 
Ugh! There’s only two weeks until school starts . . . Sorry. I had to express my feelings about that. 
Anyway, I realized something that I hadn’t up until now. I’ve never explained my writing style. As in, like, the way I write. I’ve only given writing advice, most of which I don’t even follow myself, but it’s usually good if you’re a first-time writer. I did that for a while, got bored, and went on my own path (which is probably why I have such a bad sense of direction). 
First of all, the way I word-build goes: 
1) Setting 
2) Character
3) Plot
Setting, for me, is basically just describing the landscape, history, politics, etc. of this world my characters live in. My world is broken up into eight sections, all linked together with stone bridges (except for one of them, where all the bridges are cut off from it). I have a map of it somewhere. The northern parts of this world are, obviously, cold, especially Carter, the northernmost land of the world of Vastgil, where the mountains are snow-capped year-round (I’m looking at you, Alaska). This is just some of the landscape part of my world. History is pretty self-explanatory. I go back all the way to how the world was created, and how it evolved into what it is today. The history in my world also explains why some of the lands are the way they are. For instance, there was a war in the Age of Creation in my book that broke the world into eight sections. Then the history goes through wars and disputes and other political crises, through discoveries and legends and whatnot, all the way to how my main character came to be. 
What I do for characters is basically describe what they look like, who they are, and what their thoughts are about the world and people around them. I typically explain their background if they’re crucial enough to the story. 
I’m not a big plotter/outliner, so I usually write just a sentence or two of what I want to happen in each chapter for the first draft, and then write detailed page-long plots for each chapter of what I want to happen. 
Once I have these three things done I jump right into the book. I write the book straight through without editing. 90,000 words takes me about six months, because of school. In the summertime I can write 60,000 words in a week, which you’ve already experienced from me. This time around, it took me 6 months to get the first 50,000 words down. Which is good for most people, but not for me. I’m a consistent writer; I try to write every day, whatever I can, and it usually ends up being anywhere between 2 and 10 pages, sometimes 15 or 20 if it’s a weekend or in the summertime. 
My second draft is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS longer than my first draft. Let’s face it: in a first draft, nothing’s right. Don’t try to make it right in a first draft. All you need to focus on when you write in a first draft are: 
1) Character: Make sure yours characters all end up in your story
2) Plot: Make sure you are following your plot, if you have one
3) Dialogue: Make sure you get down what they’re saying on the page
And by the end of all this, when you have 175,000 words, you DO have a big book, but it’s not done, of course. In the second draft, you go back and fill everything else in: description, dialogue tags, the five senses, etc. 
Also, first drafts are typically written in short, choppy sentences. When you go back through for a third draft, focus on fixing your long, flowing sentences. 
Now it’s time to go and cut back a bit on all the fluff. This is everything you don’t need. Try to keep things short and sweet in your first draft. Focus on getting it down on the page and nothing else. First drafts are usually short, choppy sentences with no description. 
I’m making it sound easy, I know, but it’s not. Writing is never easy, no matter how much you write. It never gets easier, you just get better, and you never become a master at it no matter how long you’ve been writing (with the exception of Patrick Rothfuss). Don’t let people tell you it gets easier. But don’t give up. 
So, guys, what’s your writing style? 
-Matt

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackson Porter August 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm

My writing style. It usually goes like this:

1. Title of the book.
2. Ending. (Usually tragic.)
3. Main character.

But lately it's been going like this:

1. Idea. (With characters.)
2. Basic plot outline. (I call it a first-layer plot.)
3. Twists.

If you mean my style, I prefer first person present tense, but I've tried everything but second person. My cousin and I have dabbled in ideas for a second person story, though. It'd be a challenge, but it'd be fun.

Hero, my current book, is being written in third person present tense. It's weird, but it's fun to try.

Allonsy!

-Jackson

Patrick Stahl August 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm

For short fiction:

(Optional step). Pick a genre
1. Cool idea #1
2. Cool idea #2
3. Merge ideas #1 and #2
4. Protagonist
5. Premise
6. Write

Note: there isn't always a step 2 or 3, but there should be

For longer works (although I've never came anywhere near finishing one…):

1. One or more awesome ideas
2. Protagonist
3. Plot and secondary characters
4. Basic outline
5. Write

My settings are either made along with the plot or develop as I write.

Matt Hayes August 13, 2012 at 6:44 pm

No, I mean WRITING style, as in the way you write it, start to finish. I think you're thinking of plotting style, but first person present tense is a style.

I usually write in third person, past tense, because it's most common for fantasy, unless you're reading Patrick Rothfuss or Mark Lawrence.

-Matt

Matt Hayes August 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Setting usually goes into the plot but doesn't show up until the second draft of the book.

Secondary characters usually have no real big part in the first draft – minor secondary characters, at least. Supporting secondary characters typically have more to do with the story, so they appear a bunch in the first draft.

For me, "genre" doesn't really click until the Setting/ Plot stages of outlining. And once that's done, I usually go back and modify my character file to suit them to the world around them.

-Matt

Jeff Hargett August 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I'm so backwards, I suppose. But yes, setting for me always seems to come first, followed by premise/plot and then the characters enter stage left when not descending from clouds or tunneling up from underground. Maybe if my genre wasn't fantasy the characters would arrive sooner?

Matt Hayes August 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Oh, yeah. Not all of my characters are laid out before I start working on a story. Most of them start coming along as I write it, but all the main/supporting characters are already there before I start writing.

-Matt

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