Writing Style VS Amateur Writing

A topic I never understood.

In literature class:

X author has a simplistic writing style. They write sentences with just verbs and nouns, lacking descriptions. They are easy to read and their stories focus more on actions than descriptions, etc.

When we write stuff and someone writes a critique:

Your writing is very blunt and lacks descriptions.

How do you separate writing style from amateur writing?

I find that the amount of descriptions is very much a subjective part of writing style. Some people like a lot. Others, like myself, prefer minimal description. My own writing tends to have fewer descriptions (and my first drafts are sometimes embarrassingly devoid of them in places). I’ve received comments telling me that my descriptions are perfect or easy to visualize, and I’ve also gotten comments telling me that more details would have been nice. Both were for the same story.

I think amateur writing occurs when multiple flaws converge to produce something that doesn’t flow well, or is generally not enjoyable to read. Maybe the characters are flat, and things happen to easily/quickly, and there’s a lot of telling when showing could be better, and there’s no tension.

As writers, I think we develop multiple skills as we progress, resulting in fewer flaws overall, and not just the quantity/quality of descriptions.

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For me it would be the product as a whole which tells me if it’s style or amateur. Like if there are a lot of other errors in the book (IE incorrect dialogue tag punctuation) then I’d assume lack of descriptions or whatever else is more an indication of amateur writing.

But if everything else is clean then I lean toward style. And sometimes peoples style of writing just isn’t for me.

Personally I like a balance of show and tell. I hate all telling just like I hate all showing. So I need some descriptions but I don’t need every last detail described to me. In terms of word choice I’m very simplistic but that is my style. I mean until I get paid for my writing I’ll always consider myself an amateur but it’s still my style lol

So I think the best thing to do when trying to decide if it’s just the authors style or an actual error is to look at the picture as a whole, not just parts of it.

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Agree completely. You said what I meant to say. :grin:

Lol hey I liked what you said too! I almost had nothing really to add.

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@Zoe @Prisim thanks for answering!

Writing is a subjective art. What you might consider “bad writing,” someone else will think the opposite.

So “writing style” is much the same; some people don’t like certain writing styles. And that’s that.

Personally, there are some writing styles I’ve seen that I consider “amateur writing.” As a writer, I try to follow novels I’ve read and seen. A novel is supposed to be descriptive (not too descriptive where you know every nook and cranny, but enough to leave an image in your mind) and it should have a balance of details and dialogue. The grammar, spelling, and punctuation should also be correct.

If I see a story that’s more dialogue based or lacks details, I consider that “amateur writing.” If I see a story where the writer writes in all lower-case, I consider that “lazy writing” therefore, “amateur writing.”

But this is just me. Other people might think of these as writing styles and they may like it. And that’s fine.

However, in my mind, if you’re trying to write in a particular style, there are different ways to write it. Like for instance, if you want to write all dialogue based and less descriptions, why not try screenwriting? Or if you want your story to sound more sudden, you can write smaller sentence that are more abrupt or something like that?

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I can’t recall which author it was but they said something like “Once you hit the New York Times Bestseller list, you can have a ‘style’ - till then listen to your editor.”



IMO - Style isn’t something that you manufacture or work on - it just is. It’s the way you craft your sentences, how you put your scenes together, the way you get inside your characters. It’s personal and unique to you.



What style isn’t - “lowercase intended” - unless you’re e.e.cummings. Not capitalizing, or using proper punctuation isn’t ‘style’ - it’s laziness. The only exception might be in poetry, and even then it’s iffy.

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Yeah I honestly hate when people use that as an excuse. Same with not having periods or commas. I once saw a guy argue he didn’t need correct periods or commas because he didn’t understand them so why use them. Hey i’m the first to admit I suck at making sure the comma is in the right spot, but I’m not going to sit there and pretend they aren’t needed!

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Look! I use lowercases (I admit) and I just use it for chapter headings or by mistake (mostly for chapter headings - and it is somethimg I started doing recently).

But for the main text - I cannot do lowercase. I do not want to either, tbh. Correct is correct grammar whether you understand it or not. Mistakes, however, are different things.

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My earlier books have incorrect capitalization on the chapter titles 'cause I didn’t know that was a thing at first LOL Now I do a good job at making them capitalized unless I just had a brain fart.

Agree 100%. We all screw up. That’s inevitable. I’m dyslexic and one of my biggest issues is word swaps. I’ll know the difference between bear/bare and still use the wrong one (as an example) That stuff happens. But to intentionally go out and not use the correct grammar is just…ugh. There is no excuse to not run something through spell check. Full edits, fine, skip those until you plan on publishing, but at the very least that first draft should be run through spell check.

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I agree. And tbh - typos are understandable. I have a bad habit of eating up words in the middle of a sentence and even though I do read the chapter out aloud several times but I tend to miss it. Grammar mistakes are fine too - especially on wattpad where I know that for a lot of people (including me) english is their second language. But deliberately ignoring it for ‘styling’. That doesn’t make sense.

Correct me if I am wrong - but do stories get published with these ‘styles’? I know poems do. But that’s different I am assuming.

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If they do, I can’t think of any. They might have that style within the book as a way the character is speaking or something, but don’t think the entire book would be written that “strangely.” Couldn’t see them selling well if they do.

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Sure, everybody makes mistakes. I have to go through and check for where I put juts instead of just and i can’t tell you how much I type liek instead of like. I still have to think about “Is it its or it’s?” Missing some commas or not knowing how you’re supposed to capitalize is a struggle most of us face.

To be honest, ESL users - despite their occasional moments of confusion - are often better at grammar than English speakers.

Occasional mess ups are part of the process - that’s why the publishing industry has these people called EDITORS. But that’s no excuse for just being sloppy, unless it’s first drafts - which I don’t post, personally - but I know some do. That’s fine. But, you know, when I see “It’s just a first draft, so don bug me about spelling and grammar” I have to shake my head. Why are you posting a first draft, if not for feedback?

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I think, regarding the purposeful disregard for the capitalization or punctuation, it’s not fair to say it’s always wrong. I mean, there can be a non-amateur writer creating some Post-Modern and/or experimental work and they can make those choices: change case, change or omit punctuation, use colored text only for certain words, insert fanciful footnotes about things that don’t exist, include profound chatspeak exchange between God and an AI or something, etc.

BUT, when the non-amateur writer does this, it’s clear the whole work is mind-bending and experimental. They wrote some ‘literary’ experimental piece that follows its own rules (there were rules, even if the reader doesn’t recognize them at first.)

Writing a work that is otherwise non-experiemntal and is common and even cliche and then not bothering to capitalize correctly is clearly amateur. It’s not artistic to disregard spelling or formatting rules when there’s no purpose or meaning behind it.

So, a novel could use lowercase in some cases, I think. That would be style. But it needs to be done meaningfully. Otherwise, yes, it’s amateur.

I post first drafts (because most of what I write will never make it past a first draft. I wrote it for fun and that’s the only reason) but I at least run through spell check and get those little buggers. I’ll try to catch some of my word swaps but that does take more editing then I’m willing to do in a first draft.

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highfives everyone cause lowercase poetry pisses the heck out of me

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Were all amateurs, metaphorically speaking. Said the meta-mask.

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Agree with you. I honestly can’t stand stories written intentionally in lower case. And the writer is proud of the fact. I mean- what’s wrong with proper capitalization?

I can’t take their writing seriously if they can’t even bother capitalize their words.