Writing

Style as Exposition

I’ve been thinking about my writing style, but I don’t think I actually have one. Not in terms of sentence structure, feel or anything else, either. All those things change with the story. Maybe I’ve just never found my particular style.

The few times I’ve managed to infuse some sort of style in my stories, it’s related to the character or the setting or something.

I am thinking now that style could be another way to do exposition, to reveal things about character in a non-obvious way. It probably works best in first person POV, but could work pretty well in a third person limited POV, too.

Some of that is probably because I read/write mostly fantasy and lots of fantasy is written in the “transparent window pane” sort of style – plain and unobtrusive and not noticeable. The reader notices it as much as those birds who slam into windows in window cleaner commercials. (But with less pain!)

But not all of it because some fantasy writers do have a distinctive style. I know, because all of their books sound similar. You think it’s the characters’ voice. But it’s not, because the language is similar not only across many books and many different characters, but different series as well. Similar enough you know who the writer is with only a single sample page. I know with these writers the way the book is written reflects nothing about the character.

Some of this is probably because I’ve always tried to write in the POV character’s style rather than my own. I try to figure out a few words/phrases the character loves and use those in as varied a way as I can.

A part of me no doubt thought if my character had a way of speaking, preferred some words over others, liked to repeat certain phrases, liked to go on and on and on, there would be a reason and would go to illustrate their character. If they didn’t, it might be best to keep the style as neutral as possible.

What do you think? Can the style of a piece serve as exposition as well? Should it?

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2 thoughts on “Style as Exposition

  1. It’s one of the reasons why I think I prefer writing first person, because then I’m not writing the story, the narrator is, if that makes sense. You can inject a lot of information through tone of voice alone that you can then imply, rather than outright describe.

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