Developing a Writing Style as a Technical Writer
Everyone has a writing style. In simple terms, it is the way you express yourself in writing. Whether it is a personal subjective kind of article or an objective technical writing, your writing style is an extension of your personality, individuality and writing skill.
Hello everyone! In this article, let's talk about why is it important to develop a writing style as a dev blogger/technical writer and how we can develop it.
Why is it important to have a writing style?
As mentioned earlier, it subtly reflects your individuality and personal brand as a writer. Having a distinct and authentic writing style can definitely help you stand out as a writer or blogger. It also gives your readers a sense of familiarity whenever they read your articles.
Characteristics of Style
A writing style can be broken down into 5 simple observable characteristics.
Diction refers to the style of the author’s word choice. It also includes punctuations and emojis. You can usually identify a writer's diction from repetitive patterns. For example, in most of Bhanu Teja Pachipulusu's articles, he likes to start with "Hello World 👋".
Diction can convey the tone of the writing. In our example, this diction gives off a friendly informal tone.
2. Sentence structure
Sentence structure aka syntax is the way words are arranged in a sentence. Different syntax styles can be used to highlight and emphasize words differently. Let's take a look at these 2 lines:
Recommendation systems exist almost everywhere these days.
These days, recommendation systems exist almost everywhere.
As you may have observed, though these 2 sentences convey the same meaning, the different word arrangement has an impact on where the emphasis of the sentence is.
In the first sentence, the emphasis is on the "almost everywhere" part whereas the second sentence emphasizes on "these days".
Hence, different writers can distinguish themselves with the use syntax to evoke certain tone and emphasis in their sentences.
The tone of a writing refers to the feeling or attitude readers get from the article. Usually, tone is conveyed via a combination of diction and syntax.
In technical writing, the tone can show certain perspectives the writer has towards a certain topic. For example, this paragraph is taken from an article called The Art of Productive Procrastination:
If you are a developer/writer, reading not only keeps you updated with the latest technologies and news, it can also give you limitless inspiration and ideas for your next article or side project!
The combination of words, punctuation and syntax gives a feeling that the writer is excited and probably has a positive attitude towards reading.
The point-of-view of the article is called the narration. Some writers may use "I", "me" or "you" a lot whereas other writers use "we" or "us" in their articles.
For example, these are 2 different types of narration:
Let me show you how to make a to-do list app.
Let us make a to-do list app.
The difference in narration communicates how the writer wants to position the perspective of the reader. Using "I", "me" or "you" will make it feel like the writer is talking to the reader directly. On the other hand, "we" and "us" expresses togetherness and that the writer and reader are progressing the article together.
5. Use of Images or media elements
Every writer is a unique individual and so his/her choice of images or other media elements in an article can be quite distinct.
Like Skay, who uses realistic and bright stock photos as his cover images.
Or Tapas Adhikary, who includes his article titles in custom cover arts.
Of course, the use of images is not limited to only cover images. It can also be about how a writer incorporates images or GIFs in their article that shows off their interests or personality.
e.g. If a writer often uses Star Wars GIFs, it could indicate he/she is a fan of the movie.
How to Develop a Writing Style
Now that we have some understanding of different style characteristics and how some writers can use them to develop a unique writing style, let's discuss how we can develop a writing style.
Reading is one of the best ways to develop a writing style. Great books, articles or any literary content can expand your perspectives and vocabulary. These are aspects that can give you flexibility and insights as you continue writing and maturing your own style.
With reading, you can:
- Get inspired and influenced by writers you admire
- Understand and analyze what you like about their writing
- Don't have to stick to only reading technical articles, expand your genre and read fiction, novels, anything that has elements to inspire you
2. Write. A Lot.
They always say "Practice makes perfect" and it's true for writing. By writing more, you're gradually discovering your own style and making conscious decisions on word choice, tone and syntax.
To get started:
- Practice writing differently (i.e. use a variety of words, change up the tone or narration style) and see what works for you and your readers
- Adjust your style and how you deliver information as you go
- It's always good to start early
- Write because you enjoy it and gradually you'll find a style you enjoy writing the most
3. Understand What You Want to Write
Writing is about communication. Be clear in what you want your readers to take away from your article. Be mindful of the word choices you make. Does it clearly convey what you want to tell your readers?
If possible, keep it simple and short.
Improving your writing skills will naturally lead you to finding and developing a writing style. So aim to be a good writer and communicator.
4. Observe and Learn
Being able to articulate complex concepts is a highly desired and essential skill as a technical writer. Sometimes, you'll find yourself unable to clearly convey something in your own words, even though you are very familiar with the topic.
There's no harm to look up articles that cover similar topics to see how authors have written. Of course, it is a bad idea to copy their writing style so take their articles as a sample essay for inspiration.
Observe the way they explain a certain concept and try to do it in your own words. Slowly, you'll be able to develop this skill without much help.
Developing a good and unique writing style requires patience and perseverance. Start writing no matter if you are a beginner or not. Then progress gradually.
Thanks a lot for reading this article. I hope it is helpful so please like and share if it is. As usual, feel free to leave any thoughts or questions in the comments below. All the best to your writing journey if you are a writer too! Cheers!
- GIFs from giphy.com
- Images from unsplash.com
- Blog examples from blog.bhanuteja.dev, blog.skay.dev and blog.greenroots.info
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