When I set out to write my first novel, Ephialtes, one of the many things I had to consider was style. This is how I approached it.
I don’t like writing that feels ‘writerly’. It seems to me there is no need to over egg every sentence, or to describe in depth every little thing a character is thinking, feeling or wearing. To me that seems fake, and suggests the author is trying too hard.
With that in mind I made a conscious decision to imagine my story and then simply describe what I had imagined. I wanted to convey these imaginings as clearly as possible. I strived for clarity and didn’t consider a conscious style at all.
This isn’t to say that style is unimportant. It is. However, it’s one of those things like accents – you can’t hear your own, but everybody has one. And like an accent, it will sound dreadful if you try to fake it. By strenuously avoiding a deliberate style I hope that my style, whatever it is, will be there on the page. I’m sure I must have a way of constructing sentences, scenes or stories that seems unremarkable to me, where it might seem distinct or noteworthy to someone else. And if not, at least I hope I have written clearly.
Apart from specific instances (where you want to create mystery or ambiguity for plot reasons) I can see no value in confusing the reader. To me, that is just bad writing. You could kid yourself that you’re deep and arty, but if you’re such a damned hot shot you should be able to communicate with precision and clarity – that is what good writing is.
Sadly, this isn’t to say that I made a total success of it. Like most people I fall easily to waffling, and I’m sure there are many passages in Ephialtes that contradict what I’ve said above. It’s what I tried to do though, and I think it was worth aiming for.