It's been almost a year since I started Conduit. Which is crazy to think about, because a year ago the book was nothing more than a single thought in my mind. A year ago it wasn't even real book-worthy concept, just a crazy "what if this happened?" scenario at the back of my mind. A year ago I didn't even think I could finish a whole novel. I used to run into new writers who would say, "Oh yeah, just finished my first novel", and I would think they had achieved the impossible. Because coming up with ideas is the easy part. Writing a novel? Toughest thing I've ever undertaken. And probably the most rewarding, which explains why I'm doing it again.
I feel I've come a long way since then, but the most difficult thing to do as a writer was to recognize my writing style. Because I didn't understand it. What exactly is a writer's style?
Writing is writing whichever way you look at it, right? You string
together words and form them into sentences, crack open a thesaurus
every once in a while to find that elusive word, and hope you're
not making run-on sentences or breaking any of the million grammar
rules drilled into you.
But how do you individualize it?
It wasn't that I was blinded to the styles of other writers. I
could read a book and find something unique about the way the author wrote it. As a reader, I've never put down a book because I didn't enjoy the way it was written, but I do have to say that it makes the experiencing of reading it all the more enjoyable if the style of the writer is appealing. These are often the books I'll reread again and again, or pick out passages at random just to regain that sense of awe I had the first time reading.
Over time, I've become more conscious of how I write. How I structure sentences, the types of words I use, the flow of my prose, the way I choose my character's voices. The way I set pace and end chapters (Conduit fans on Wattpad just loved this last one as they waited for weekly updates, and by loved I mean absolutely loathed). It has become instinctual, like how your personal signature is second nature after you've done it year after year. You can't explain it to others and you most certainly can't teach it to others, but it's there.
It becomes part of you and you'd recognize it in a heartbeat.
Of course, there is a huge room for improvement, and I'm a believer that writing style should never be stagnant. Part of growing as a writer is discovering new and fresh ways of telling stories, ways that match the theme of the book and the voice of the narrator. Which is why I look forward to the future, so that I'll be able to see how much my writing changes five or ten years from now. And for that, I'm glad I finished my first book.