How ebooks have changed my writing style
I realized partway through the first draft of my latest book, The Apocalypse Corpse, that my writing style had changed. Hopefully for the better, you say! Ba-dum-dum….
Seriously, though, I’ve been writing shorter paragraphs and sentences, and making sure I’m always indicating the speaker when it comes to dialogue. I wasn’t exactly the sort of writer who carried on with long paragraphs in my previous books, but in the new book I’m really sharp and short.
I don’t think this is good or bad. It’s just an evolution in my writing based on my reading. And I credit ebooks for the evolution. I’ve found long paragraphs in ebooks can be a bit difficult to read. The screens are smaller than print pages, so you only have room for a few lines of text at a time. Those longer paragraphs that take up half a page in a traditional print book just turn into a wall of text in an e-reader, and I find my mind wandering as I stare at them. I’d say it’s just me, but other people on book forums have voiced the same issue, so it seems there’s something about our wiring that makes us lose interest when faced with too much text and not enough breaks. Make of that what you will.
The same goes for witty exchanges of dialogue between characters. On a printed page, I can usually follow who’s speaking without needing too many dialogue tags. But in an ebook, I sometimes get lost once I’ve advanced the page past the initial “he said, she said” tags. Then I have to go back and trace it out. In my own writing now, I’m careful to throw in a dialogue tag every few lines now to ensure that readers don’t get lost.
So there’s no doubt to me that the reading technology is changing writing style. I’m seeing it happen in real time.
I suppose some people may consider that a negative. Maybe it is. I don’t know. But if so, the positives still far outweigh it. Consider this: Last night around midnight, I was lying in bed and wanted to read some genre fiction. So I picked up my iPhone and logged in to the Kindle Store and bought Masked, a collection of dark superhero stories. A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to make a spontaneous purchase like that in bed at night and be reading the book a minute later. So it all balances out.