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Okay, so you're an aspiring writer. You know your stories are well written. You revise each story several times before you send it off with the hope of publication; but the stories come back with an encouraging comment by the editor but not an acceptance. There could be any number of reasons for the rejection of a well written story: the publication recently published a story on the same or a similar subject; you didn't do your homework and sent a story to a publication that doesn't publish adult erotica no matter how well written it is; or your story didn't stand out from a slush pile full of well written stories. Maybe it's your style.

The more unique a writer's style the more his or her story will stand out. Here are the general (sometimes I break my own rules because I'm not a robot) parameters of my own style.

I try to use as little exposition as possible (show don't tell). I don't use adverbs or adjectives. I write in scenes (show don't tell). I use description as exposition. The resolution of a story "never" depends on a coincidence. I don't use abstract language. My stories are "packed" with things, action (dialogue is action) and body language. I leave as much as possible to the reader's imagination so the reader participates in the creation of the story.

At the University of Pittsburgh someone once said to me that I wanted the reader to write the story for me. I hope the person was exaggerating to make a point; but I like to think anyone reading a story by Guy Hogan would know it was written by me "even if my name was not on the story." Be conscious of your craft. Be conscious of your style.

So, what's your style?

PS. I notice there are a lot of I(s) in this article. I was going to remove them and rewrite the article so it would read less egocentric; but I'm not going to do that because your style is "all about you." Your style is you. It expresses something so innate in the writer and in his or her world view that it must be a direct expression of the writer's absolute individually. This absolute individuality is what a writer must express in prose. This is the writer's style. And it's unique because it can never be duplicated. I may mimic Hemingway but I can never be Hemingway. I can only be me. And that's who I want to be. (

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The following comments are for "Short Story Tips: Style"
by ScottDelaney

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