Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Little Pizzazz

Has your writing style evolved over the years? If so, tell us how, and what the drivers of those changes were.

by Dietrich

I don’t know if my style has changed that much, but, there’s a different approach going from one story to the next — a different attitude, rhythm, tone, and pace.

The early novels were set in present time, and I used simple language and often relied on short, clipped or fragmented sentences, which lent a staccato rhythm. When I started writing historical novels, I went a little longer, using more imagery to paint the scenes of times gone by, altering the syntax and the tone which seemed to better suit the time period.

Whatever the story, I let the words find a natural rhythm and pace. And I’m aware that it’s easier to find that zone now than when I started out.

I’m not sure how much it has to do with style, but my confidence has gained ground over the years. I don’t delete or ball up nearly as much paper when penning that first dummy run, not thinking what I just wrote is shit. So, I’m better at knowing when something is working or not. And I’ve become better at self-editing, knowing what should stay, and what should go. As I work toward a polished draft, I get a feeling when I’ve got it right. When I started out, there was more guesswork, much more guesswork.

From the start, I relied on dialogue, having fun giving the characters their banter, letting their words carry the scenes. There’s often something implied by their own speech or actions, more than what the words alone are telling. When it feels like I’m just sitting back typing as they talk, then I know I’m on the right track.   

Since the early books, I started making a habit of reading chapters back out loud. When something isn’t right, it’s easier to spot, like hearing a false note. 

I’m an avid reader, more now than a few years ago. There’s so much inspiration between the pages of a good book, and luckily there are so many out there — new ones, old ones, in every genre. There’s nothing like reading a novel, putting it down at the end and going, “Wow!” And reading something outstanding has always had a way of making me want to pull up my own socks.

So, my approach may have evolved, and some methods have improved, and doing it every day has built confidence. One thing that’s stayed constant is the drive to do it, fueled by the pure joy of storytelling.

My new one is historical, and it’s based on a true story, and that’s something new for me. It’s called Under an Outlaw Moon (November 2, 2021, ECW Press). It follows the lives of Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson, a couple from the thirties who robbed a bank right after they got married, quickly spinning their way to the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list, and getting far more than they ever bargained for. If you want to find out more, please check out my website or ECW Press’s site.


Susan C Shea said...

Thoughtful - you clearly approach your work professionally, probably more consciously than I do!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Susan.

JG Toews said...

Very interesting, Dietrich - I am pondering this sort of thing as I dive into my third novel after a long break. In an earlier post, you inspired me to reread book 1 & 2.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Judy. All the best.