Monday, 27 September 2010

Juggling Styles

As I near the completion of the twelve short stories that will accompany Swan Song into print, a single goal has been in my head throughout the writing process.

Each story should be different.

I've attempted to change tone, pacing, structure, theme and mood with each new idea that I've penned down, desiring that each new tale starts completely fresh, both in style and intent, from the one previous.

So far, it's worked out, I think, but can you have too much of a good thing, no matter how varied?

What if, whilst attempting to showcase the multitude of styles I have at my disposal, I overwhelm my reader? Might it finally appear in conclusion that in order to appeal to everyone, I've thrown in everything, including the kitchen sink?

This dilemma takes me back to my music days.

I once had a phone conversation with an A and R man at Fire Records who attempted to explain to me that a band that sounded like all their favourite bands was a bad thing.

'You have to find your own unique sound...'

He explained.

' can't sound like Madness one song, Nirvana the next and close the demo sounding like Sting. It won't work. It will sound like you are trying too much to be everyone and you will end up sounding like no one.'

'Isn't that a good thing...?'

I cheekily replied.

'...what band in their right mind would try that? That could be the unique sound!'

To this day, I am not sure if I was being serious or not.

His point was well made.

He meant be true to your own style and try not to juggle too many styles or you will appear directionless.

For the established artists that can re-invent themselves with every new work, well I guess that comes later when you have gained the freedom and power to do so. In the beginning, mark your territory.

(Look at me! I'm only one novella down and I'm already talking about being true to my own style! You see how blogs make you pretentious!)

In literature, I think there is a lot more lee way.

In an author's collection of stories, I expect him or her to mix it up. I expect variety of all sorts, be that moving from a first person narrative to a third, and so on. More than anything, I expect a difference in mood and resolution to the stories. Not everything has to end like The Shining right?

I want to surprise my readers with how different each of these stories will be from one to the other, yet throughout, my writing voice will remain the one constant, promising that although the playing field and focus may shift, my control on the narrative will not.

I'm curious to see how it all turns out.


  1. Me, too, my friend. Me, too. For all of us at Vamplit. You just keep doing what you think is right. We'll follow...

  2. I've been lucky enough to read the short stories over the last few months and can say, honestly, that you do 'mix it up', but there is still your unique authorial voice in each.

  3. I'm no leader Jimmy! I'm a follower, I'm a lemming!

    Thank you Gaynor. You wait to see what I have planned for the last three stories!

  4. The stories are pretty much finished! I'm just agonising over some editing and tidying up!