Random musings: What is style?

I imagine you would have a ton of answers, all of which might be right, especially if each one starts with the phrase, “It depends!” That’s exactly where the problem begins, especially if you have to explain it to your five- or six-year-old, who often demands straightforward answers!

“Style” might depend on a million and one things, but whether it is about your dress sense, how you walk or talk – or in this case, how you write – style is simply what makes you feel comfortable! Everything else is fluff.

I received an anonymous memo the other day unsigned, undated and bearing no name. There was no need to panic because it was a one-page typed report by an apparently distracted staff too concerned with getting an approval than to notice the obvious omissions.

I called my secretary immediately and asked her to return to the unsigned memo to the author, mentioning exactly who it was. My secretary was surprised.

“How did you know it was from him,” she asked. “It was dispatched in error.”

“I didn’t have to sweat it,” I replied. “His name may not be on the memo, but his imprint is all over!”

That imprint is his style! Like your fingerprint, it’s unique to you, it’s what gives you away even when you have not scrawled your pen across the page or embedded your picture on it! it’s what makes you comfortable.

I was thinking of style – literary style, that is – recently and a book came to mind: The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B White. It’s a slim book that has seen times and seasons and nurtured some of the best writers you can think of.

Get a copy if you can and just while you’re at it, also get a copy of my new book, Writing for Media and Monetising it – a resource that can also help you bring your style home.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my book on Style: “In a world of many voices and just as many styles…you have a style and a voice unique to you.”

An important task of my book is to help you find it – and deliver clear, simple meaningful content, that makes not just you, but also your readers feel comfortable!

Azu Ishiekwene is a veteran journalist with over 35 years of experience, currently serving as Senior Vice Chairman/Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP. Azu is a prolific author, columnist, and co-founder of The Interview magazine, Azu's influence extends beyond borders, shaping the global media landscape.

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