Last spring I went to a mini writers workshop that offered a sneak peek into the Midwest Writers Workshop hosted at Ball State University in the summer. A speaker at one of the break-out sessions discussed the topic of style. Using Mark Twain as an example, he illustrated how style can make one’s writing stand out in the crowd and eventually provide a sort of brand identity for the writer.
Well, there was this guy in the front row who felt the need to share his personal experiences with the group in an effort to discount everything the speaker was trying to say. He was a technical writer by trade and argued that his genre had no need for style and in fact, trying to stand out from the crowd would be detrimental to his obtaining work. This guy completely took over the session as he argued with the speaker.
I’m happy to say it was only a 15 minute session and I was able to avoid the guy for most of the other sessions but I spent some time thinking about what this over-bearing person had to say and I think still I disagree.
Even when I’m writing copy for a package of toilet paper, style comes into play. In the advertising world they may call it tone or speaking to your demographic. But even selling toilet paper requires the writer to find a consistent voice otherwise we would see ads for Charmin calling out, “Yo, yo, yo! Buy my toilet paper you little whippersnapper.” See…it would just be a train wreck.
I’m glad to see that Fred finds an appreciation for writing style. He says it’s what makes our writing unique to us. Maybe that guy from the front of the room will read Fred’s book and next time keep his opinion to himself.