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Matching personal writing style to each subgenre

Adapt personal writing style to a project’s genre/subgenre is an important step in getting the right tone and mood for a book. Let’s take a look at the basics styles of several popular romance subgenres.

Each romance subgenre has specific stylist elements

Contemporary Romance: tone ranges from semi-sweet to borderline edgy/dark; mood ranges from serious to light and fun depending on the story; word choice involves mild to moderate graphic descriptions of sex and violence; wordiness is moderate and scene specific; syntax is largely casual but may change when the scene calls for it.

Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-Fi: tone is more serious and edgy; mood also tends to be more serious but can have lighter elements; wordiness is more elaborate to accommodate heavier description and worldbuilding; word choice is more complex and subgenre specific, may use profanity and have moderate graphic descriptions of sex and violence; syntax varies widely depending on the topic and scene.

Sweet/Clean: tone is lighter and sweeter but can have more serious elements; mood is softer and gentler, drawing on hope and love; wordiness varies from simple to moderate, depending on the topic and scene; word choice is mild and avoid profanity or graphic descriptions of most things; syntax ranges from casual to semi-formal.

Religious/Spiritual: tone is lighter and more “pure” but can have more serious elements; mood is softer and gentler, drawing on hope and optimism; wordiness varies from simple to complex depending on the topic, may be more elaborate to communicate beliefs/ideals; word choice is mild and avoid profanity or graphic descriptions of most things; syntax ranges from semi-casual to somewhat formal.

Erotica: Edgier/darker and more serious tone, but may have lighter or humorous tone; more indulgent, high emotion mood; word choice involves more graphic descriptions of sexual topics and encounters, uses profanity more freely; syntax and wordiness vary based on the scene but lean toward snappier wording and casual syntax.

Romantic Suspense: tone is edgier/darker and more serious; mood is high emotion and intense; wordiness leans toward concise and snappy, but can change depending on the scene; word choice ranges from moderate to graphic descriptions of sex, violence, and profanity; syntax is more serious and formal, but can vary based on specific scenes.

New/Young Adult: tone is ranges from light to more serious/dark depending on the topic and age of the characters, NA is edgier and deal with more serious topics in most cases; mood tends to be high emotion and ranges from moderate to intense; wordiness tends to be concise and snappy with specific scenes being more complex; word choice is dependent on the topic, but YA tends to have less profanity and graphic content while NA is more open to both; syntax varies from casual to serious depending on the topic, but YA leans toward less complex structures.

Historical: tone is more serious and formal; mood is also more formal and proper, though lighter elements and humor are also used; wordiness is more complex and elaborate, relying on proper and formal speech patterns; word choice is specific to the time period and region, and ranges from formal to colloquial; syntax is more complex and detailed, putting more emphasis on the construction of the phrases and sentences.

For more information on writing styles, check out this helpful article!

If you want to see what classic writer your style compare with, learn about the style of some writing greats here.

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How does narrative voice effect storytelling?

An important part of choosing the right narrative mode involves choosing what narrative voice to use.

Narrative modes are individual elements used to relay a story to the reader, and include:
Dialogue, action, description, exposition, thought and scene.

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Dialogue is the talk that is exchanged between characters. It is spoken communication and is punctuated with quotations. It shows personality, reveals information, and gives the reader insight about the character’s thoughts, worldview, and self-perception.

Action is events portrayed as they happen in a story. Action takes time to develop and happens in a specific place. Action is not a “report” or something that happened. It should be described “blow by blow” and not as a summary.

Description is details about how something, some place, or some person looks behaves or functions. Description should have purpose. It should develop setting, characters, situation, and time period. Description should not be self-serving or irrelevant to the situation or story. It should help orient readers in the scene.

Exposition is the telling of the story through relaying information. It is used for explaining, transitions, and narrative summary to skip details of unimportant but necessary events. Too much exposition is referring to as “telling.” Not every part of the story should be told as exposition.

Thought is character self-talk or inner dialogue. It may be only thoughts, or actual talk (self encouragement or disparagement). In third person, thought is italicized to mark it as different from dialogue. First person wording (“I”) is also used in thoughts.

Scene sets the stage for a particular part of a story. It informs the reader of the situation the story section will take place in. Special attention should be paid to the open and close of each scenes so it does not begin or extend beyond what is relevant.

Narrative Voice

Narrative voice encapsulates the writer’s and narrator’s voice, viewpoint, style, tone, mood, and how a story is presented. Voice shows personality and changes depending on the character or situation. Nearly all elements of a story contribute to the voice of the story and needs to be consciously thought out to make sure it’s present in the best way for a particular story.

 

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Elements of Narrative Voice

Attitude has to do with emotion, values, and beliefs, worldview, and feelings about a particular person or situation. It reveals how the narrator speaks, their body language, reactions, and actions.

Tone isn’t just what is said but how something is said. Speed of speech, loudness/quietness, word choice, emotion behind words, and physical actions accompanying words all affect tone.

Personal style includes vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar/technical aspects, and personal preferences. This can be developed for each character to highlight uniqueness.

Choosing narrative modes to develop a distinct narrative voice

Every story has a unique balance of narrative modes based on which create the most appropriate feel. Modes should be varied. Stories that rely to heavily on one or a select few become monotonous.

  • Vary modes used to open and close scenes
  • Break up big chunks of dialogue with action
  • Avoid long sections of thought
  • Space out action scenes to give readers a chance to reflect and anticipate what comes next
  • Keep description to what is relevant and helps develop the story, setting, or characters

How a story is told is just as important as the story being told.