Whether you’re a writer trying to make it big or like to free write to relax, it can be hard to figure out what voice and tone you want to adopt to become your own.It can be a pain to decide which style works with your strengths and weaknesses as an author, and even when you find a style and tone that you enjoy the most, it can be hard to find books that capture the style you’re trying to go for perfectly. No fear fellow writer. I’ve made a short list of books and styles that can help start you on your reading journey of distinct styles.
Humor/comedic: Johannes Cable series by Jonathan L. Howard
A humorous writing style is one of the hardest styles to capture. This style forces the writer to consider ‘did I go too far’. What makes the author laugh can fall flat to readers, and even though readers come to this kind of comedic style for laughs, they also wish to have compelling characters and a storyline that knows when to be serious. Johannes Cable, a necromancer of some little infamy, goes through many humorous adventures, such as running a carnival for the devil to retrieve his soul back, but he is also strikingly brilliant and runs along the line of being absurd and genuine to give the reader a humorous and satisfying read. Johannes Cable can be a slow read at times, and his monologues can get on the nerves of even the characters around him, but with many of the side characters acting as counterpoints to Johannes Cable’s meticulous behavior, you’ll soon be immersed into the unpredictable twist and turn that this writing style has to offer.
Dialogue Heavy: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Are you one of those writers who find you are way more comfortable writing dialogue than description? If that’s your strength , then embrace it! Like Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you can allow your characters to drive the story. Due to the themes of Pride and Prejudice, , the characters must reveal a lot with their dialogue. Their personality, motives and the driving force of the plot derives from the dialogue, allowing readers to settle in for a fast pace read and compelling characters. For those who wish to master the style and tone of quippy characters with dialogue, “Pride and Prejudice” is the way to go.
Description Heavy: Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
On the other end of the spectrum, your style may be heavy on description. This can be useful for world building. Lord Of The Rings is written with magnificent descriptions, spreading through more than one page. Unlike someone like Thoreau’s descriptions in works like Waldon, which can give you the sense of an annoying neighbor bragging about something that only they could possibly care about, Tolkien makes sure that each description builds upon the world around the characters, the plot and the characters themselves.
Nostalgia: Montana 1948: A Novel by Larry Watson
If you like characters who are looking to things from their past and pondering upon it, or telling a story as if you are in their living room, then Montana 1948 is for you. The tone of this novel is steeped in nostalgia and a loneliness that emanates a deep sense of loss. The novel follows a boy throughout his childhood in Montana as family secrets are revealed. The point of view is of an adult speaking of his childhood, making the story feel like an oral story instead of a written one. If you enjoy writing or reading styles like To Kill a Mockingbird, that’s dripping with nostalgia and the sense of childhood in perspective, then you should take a look at Montana 1948.
Newspapers/letters: World War Z by Max Brooks
An aspiring journalist? Always thought letters were a lost art that should be resurrected? Or do you think journaling is the coolest aesthetic since pocket watches and lace? Well World War Z would be your kind of style. Written like a journalistic report and oral telling of the zombie apocalypse, it has the feel of a relative telling you of their war days when they had to walk uphill both ways, kill a zombie then watch their mother die all before breakfast. The letter style of writing, like comedic writing, is a tricky one to master, for those of you who have written letters know, it is a lot of rambling. You can run the risk of making your character becoming whiny or self righteous (I won’t name the litany of novels written in this style that accomplishes just that). The mastery of World War Z is that because it is written in the passive voice of journalistic style, where the author has no voice, and it allows the oral part of stories to come forth, it skirts around the pitfall of making anyone righteous, but gives raw stories that build a world around them.
Everyone has their own style, making the categories above broad, but hopefully in someway they help you find your style, tone or at least a fun new book to enjoy. Writers have even managed in the past to combine styles, pick what they like of each and use it to their advantage. The best way to better one’s writing style is to keep reading, and when you find one that works, read all you can of that author, emulate then grow.