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Author Overkill: Style

2014 June 6

Beauty Girl Portrait with Colorful Makeup, Hair, Nail polish andStyle uniquely belongs to an author. Style is made up of the little nuances an author brings to a story. Those nuances can be in wording, in punctuation, in grammar, in dialogue, in action that impacts the story as a whole.

The definition of nuance is “a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, and response or a very slight difference or variation in color or tone.” (Dictionary.com)

Notice the words subtle and slight.

Style is not made up of a continued use of odd punctuation, a steadfast misuse of grammar, a truckload of dialect, and a story that reads like stage direction.

For instance, em dashes, ellipses, semicolons, and exclamation points should be used sparingly and for emphasis. Likewise, incomplete sentences should be kept to a minimum as should sentences that start with a conjunction (and those sentences that start with a conjunction should be complete sentences—with a subject and a verb). Dialogue, especially dialect, should be toned down to help a reader comprehend what is being said (a reader should not need subtitles), and all attributes that read like stage direction should be “cut!”

This last bit of “style” is not style, and it looks something like this. “I can’t do this anymore.” Slams the door and walks out.

What? I’m not watching a play. I’m reading a book. I need to know that Mary said what she had to say and that Mary slammed the door and walked out.

Style comes subtly with slight variations and not in a manuscript peppered with it.

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