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03/20/2013 08:54 am ET

5 Ways To Try A New Writing Style

by Writer's Relief staff:

As writers, most of us would admit to sometimes stifling our own potential because we’re afraid to fail at something new. In fact, most people can say that about their lives in general. But, because we are creative people, we have to expect more of ourselves than the status quo. But that expectation isn’t just limited to our lifestyles; we have to see new places, meet new people, and pursue new experiences—but we also have to push ourselves to try new things in the writing itself.

If you never experiment with your style, you’ll only ever be capable of what you’re already good at today. We’re hoping that you won’t be satisfied with just what you do well at this moment, but that you’ll try some of the following suggestions and push yourself to new heights in your writing.

5 Ways You Can Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone Today:

Try a new genre. Take a break from your gruesome horror stories and try writing fantasy or romance. Or pause the intergalactic battle you’ve been writing and try writing historical fiction. Even if you hate it, you’ll be stretching your imagination in a different direction than you’re used to. Like any mental exercise, your possible lack of enjoyment doesn’t mean you’re not broadening your horizons in a positive way. You can also try this out for poetry: If you hate rhyme, force yourself to stick to a rhyme scheme—and do it well. If you always rhyme, try to leave out rhyme completely, or practice slant-rhyme and off-rhyme instead.

Change points of view. Do you always write your poems as an “I,” or do you often address a “You”? Are you a little too fond of using an omniscient narrator in your short stories? Simply switching to a point of view you don’t often employ will force you to think about telling your stories/essays/poems in a new way. And getting inside or outside of your usual narrator’s head might help you get to know your own characters a little better as well.

Write a new type of character. Some writers naturally flex their creative muscles by writing about many different kinds of people, while other writers prefer to stick with particular character types. If you fall into the latter category, we suggest writing about a character type that makes you uncomfortable. Perhaps you avoid writing about characters of the opposite gender because you’re worried the voice won’t ring true. Or maybe you avoid writing about an older generation because you lack some of the life experiences you think would be vital to those characters. But you’ll never know until you try, and you might find your imagination is capable of more than you thought.

Abandon linear storytelling. If you’re used to telling stories in a linear fashion, try telling a story backward, or tell the beginning, the end, and then the middle. By mixing up the timeline of your story, you’ll be forced to reveal details in a new way. And the bonus is, when you’re dying to tell a story that really requires a nonlinear focus, you’ll already have the necessary practice to do it well.

Throw in a twist. Take a piece of writing you had all planned out—or even finished—and add a twist ending. And instead of trying to reverse that twist and get back to what you’d originally planned, run with it in a new direction. See what your brain can do with a roadblock and try to incorporate the twist as organically as possible. You might surprise yourself and end up with an even better ending than you had before.

It’s easy to get stuck in a favorite writing style and to limit your own creativity by favoring particular genres, character types, settings, etc. But by trying even one of these five techniques, you’ll be taking a big step in improving your writing. The more you try out new writing techniques, the more you’ll grow and improve over time—and you never know, you might even find a new style you love!

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