Sunday, March 14, 2010

Making Distinctions

As I was working on the Peter Pan project I have mentioned before, there was one question that we had to answer as part of our final presentation: What makes your writing disctinctive?

In the case of the project, the question was inquiring specifically about our style of writing for that particular story, not even our playwrighting style overall. But it got me thinking- what makes my writing different from other people's? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps something.

I tend to be a "copier" in nearly everything I do. Though I do think it partially comes from a lack of confidence, it's is also sometimes a homage to something wonderful or even an unconcious thing (the latter is something I have to be quite careful about, actually. I have a really good memory and will sometimes form this wonderful "original" idea, writewritewrite... and then realise it's the exact premise of a novel I read when I was in elementary school. Oops.) But looking back at my writing over the years, even my early writing, there are a few things that stand out to me as being very "me":

-Dialogue. I've been told I have an ear for dialogue, and though I take that with a grain of salt (because I've also been told by a few others that some of it is unrealistic), it is something I pride myself on. I love to hear the differences in people's syntax and regionalisms; this may come from the fact that I planned to minor in linguistics and read a lot on the subject in high school, but some of it is just general interest. I could write a lot more on this subject alone (I'm the nerd who, just yesterday, was reading theses on the Lancaster County, PA syntax- and I'm from there!), but suffice it to say, dialogue is something I pay attention to. I like to give each character their own voice and I try to pay close attention to making anything they say fit with the period of the story, as well as their own personality.

-Character development. This is actually not something that I, myself, notice in my own writing, but what has been told to my by some people I've worked with, writing-wise. Even though I can't see it (maybe because it's my own creation and I can't step outside of it), I am glad to know that, even in a short film script, viewers feel like they know a character after just ten pages.

-Sarcasm. Writing is the perfect way for me to unleash my inner cynic. I recently saw a Facebook fanpage entitled, "You think I'm a nice person? You should hear what goes on in my head." While this is a very extreme version of what I'm saying, I do allow my most sarcastic, and sometimes cynical, voice to flow into my characters, especially one in particular that I'm writing right now. Even looking back at writing I did very early on (like elemntary and middle school), the sarcasm is definitely there. I never realized just how sardonic most of my characters are until recently, when I wrote two protagonists (in different stories) whom the sarcastic voice just did not fit. Both of them are far too earnest of people, one because it's just not her and the other because she has had very little contact with people who would think of speak like that, so she just don't know how. It was actually a relief to find that I could write someone more straightforward, to know that I wasn't stuck in one voice.

-Grammar/Conventions. Yes, I know this blog (and my writing in general) is not perfect, but I like to think I've got pretty good grammar. Though I pride myself on it, I also sometimes find myself jealous of those writers who can just write, knowing that they will find their errors later and edit them. I just can't do that- I try to get it right from the first. Of course, this never happens, but I still try :p One of my friends just writes, not worrying about whether "cat" should actually be capitalized or not, what should be four sentences flowing into one because she's so into what she's writing that she forgets to put periods in. I wish I had this sort of freedom (although, having edited some of her pieces, I will say that this style makes me crazy!)

That's about all I got. Fellow writers, what are things that make your writing distinctive?

1 comment:

  1. The nice thing about writing fantasy is that you get to create distinct worlds and rules. I also love writing dialogue. As I've had crit partners and beta readers go over my book, those are the two things that get the compliments so I'm guessing that's where my talents lie.