Knowing the difference between a writer’s style versus good writing is part of being a successful writer, no? These examples of style and substance are inspired by my experience editing bloggers on Quips and Tips From the Working World.
Before the tips, a quip:
“What’s important is the way we say it. Art is all about craftsmanship. Others can interpret craftsmanship as style if they wish. Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It’s not what we say but how we say it that matters.” ~ Federico Fellini.
Your writing style is how you express yourself in writing. Your style is different than your writing abilities. That is, you can have a distinct writing style, but be a poor writer. And you can be a great writer, but have no style!
One of the most popular books on style and substance in writing is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style – it’s one of those books writers need to browse through every six months.
And here are a few tips on writing style and writing substance…
Writer’s Style Vs Good Writing – Examples of Style and Substance
I hired several bloggers to write for Quips and Tips From the Working World (and I’ll be hiring more next month! If you’re looking for an interesting, easy blogging job, read Quips and Tips is Hiring Bloggers).
One of my bloggers said her writing style is different than mine, so she might not be right for Working World. “No no no nonono!!” said I. Her writing style has nothing to do with her ability to edit profiles for my blog.
This made me ponder the differences between a writer’s style, good writing, and an editor or publisher’s requirements. Here’s what I came up with…
Why should you think about the difference between good writing and voice? Because even if you have a solid, mesmerizing writer’s voice doesn’t mean you can wax eloquent for hours, ignore punctuation and grammar, or neglect to edit! Further, you need to learn and practice the rules of good writing in order to free your writer’s voice. “As you become proficient in the use of language, your style will emerge,” write Strunk and White in The Elements of Style, “because you yourself will emerge…”
Transitions are an example of writing substance. Even if you’re writing something as structured as the profiles on Working World or the books in the For Dummies series, you need to transition smoothly and clearly from one idea to the next. This isn’t about writing style or a writer’s voice; it’s about good writing. I think smooth transitions are one of the most important parts of good writing, because they keep the reader happily involved. Poor or nonexistent transitions (choppy writing) disrupt the reader’s experience.
Anecdotes are an example of writing style. O man, it slays me to share stories about my life! I’d much rather write articles to inform, encourage, and inspire. Hence, my “Quips and Tips” blog series. That’s my writing style and personality. Even though good writing is often peppered with personal stories, not all successful writers (or bloggers) use anecdotes. Anecdotes don’t mean the writing is substantial – though they may bring the piece alive in a different way. And, fellow scribes, is writing style.
Your editor or publisher’s requirements are part of writing substance. Unless you’re a famous writer or celebrity, you’ll probably have to tame your writer’s voice to conform to the publication. For better or worse, your editor or publisher knows the publication, and has hired you to write content in a specific way. This may mean tweaking your style, but not necessarily smothering it altogether. It’s a balancing act. Good (regularly employed) writers follow the publication’s guidelines, yet manage to express their writer’s voice — whether they’re writing obituaries for the local newspaper or structured interviews for Quips and Tips From the Working World.
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One of the most important things I’ve learned as a blog editor is that I can see the difference between fast, careless writing and thoughtful, edited writing. I’ve never paid this much attention to words and sentences before. It’s fascinating!