Earlier this week, I had a discussion about writing with a student. English 101. She’s been having trouble working through the mechanics of her compositions. She showed me one of the pieces she worked on and we went through it sentence by sentence with me offering at least two or three alternatives for each one. What she seemed to have trouble with was making up her mind about which option to choose, like there was a right answer.
There is no right answer beyond complying with the grammatical rules. Gut instinct makes up for the rest. That’s the basis of style.
Look in your closet. Look in your friend’s closet or your parent’s closet. What do you find? Pants. Shirts. Shoes. Sweaters. These are fundamental items of clothing. Among them are different variations. Jeans versus slacks. T-shirts versus button downs. Boots, sneakers, and sandals. Everyone takes these basic elements of clothing, finds the differences that appeal to them, and then makes those differences their own, absorbs them into an aspect of their personality.
The same thing goes for writing. The rules of grammar are the foundation. You spice things up with your vocabulary and use of imagery, and sometimes by breaking a rule or two every now and then. And you experiment.
Experimentation is never easy, but it’s how your find the style that works for you.