Thursday, September 13, 2012

Curmudgeon's Corner (CB): Writing style

The Riddlemaster of HedSome writers have a very distinctive style, and whether you like the style has a lot to do with whether you like their books. Patricia McKillip is an author whose lyrical style I love, and I will read pretty much anything she writes just because I really, well, like the way she writes. I particularly like her Riddle-Master trilogy, which hits a lot of other buttons for me (Welsh-like riddles, non-romantic love, betrayal, redemption), and I was really surprised to learn that a friend whose judgment I totally respect couldn't get through even the first of the books -- because she doesn't like McKillip's style.

For another example, Catherynne Valente is an author that a lot of people really like; I don't really like her style, so I have a hard time with her. (Interestingly, her extremely-lyrical style reads to me as similar to McKillip's, and I don't have a good read on why I like McKillip but not Valente). 

On the other side of the fence from lyrical, there's a much more staccato, exuberant kind of style, which is often used for young-adult SF. Cory Doctorow (For the Win, Little Brother) does this; so does Neal Stephenson in his SF books (e.g., Snow Crash). Sarah Rees Brennan, though she doesn't write SF, has a similar kind of style. This kind of style can definitely highlight the exuberant ideas-based foundation of these kinds of books.

Other writers, I feel, have a very transparent style. Allegra Goodman's novel Intuition is written in a style that is meant not to get in the way of what's happening in the book -- because it's a book about science and scientists, this makes sense. 

What kind of style do you enjoy? Are there styles you don't enjoy?


  1. Yes, I find I dislike when a write does an omnipresent style in which you can hear the thoughts and feelings of all characters. I think it takes away some of the mystery for me of wondering characters motivations!
    Cool post!

  2. Thank you for a most interesting post. Some writers have a very distinctive style that you can see throughout their works, regardless of what genre they write in (for example JK Rowling or Dickens). I do think that authors who are indavidual in their style of writing and creativity, origonality are in many ways more reconizable and popular.

  3. i have read some of the book from authors and then i email them and tell them what i thought of the book or the blog but i read the book sincei am arc and blogger and try to do the best for them

  4. I agree with Alisa. I've always had problems with authors writing from many POV s. I like the mystery in the books I read, but I have to say that not all authors spoil the mystery when writing more than one POV.

    very interesting topic!

  5. I like it when I find things out along the way when the characters do most of the time. It depends on what I'm reading, but if I know certain things before the characters do, it can take away my interest from the story. Other times, I like to know things before the characters do, and then it's interesting to wait for when they find out and see how they react.

  6. I prefer it when a character tells the story first person definitely. One of my favourite distinctive writing styles I have read recently is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi... it's so disjointed and strange, but PERFECT for the story. Great post :)

  7. I enjoy most writing styles, but I don't really like when the narrator speaks out to you in some cases, because I feel that in some situations it seem like the author is trying to make the story seem interesting.