Monday, May 16, 2011

Do you know your style?

I have always considered my writing to be commercial verses literary. I write plot-driven stories and then try to infuse a more character-driven narrative to keep the reader sympathetic to my MC. I’m good with that. I never suggested or expected to be on the same planet as literary writers.


A few of the agents reading my current MS prefer literary or literary bent. Does that mean my writing style has a slight literary bent? Or is it simply that they are requesting something outside their norm? Who knows, but it did get me thinking—do we know our style?

I think it's a more important element to our writing than we may guess. Agents definitely have preferences. Querying a sci-fi agent with a romance is almost certainly going to result in a form rejection. Why waste your time and theirs? But the same goes for querying a plot-driven story to an agent that hates plot-driven books. Analyzing your writing style beyond the genre may help focus in on the best agents for your work. Many agents will specify their genre preferences on their website/blog, but most also go into detail about what they like in general. This hints more at writing style than premise/story.

  • Ex. “I prefer high concept stories with a literary bent.”

  • Ex. “I prefer character-driven, commercial fiction.”

So what about you? What is your style? Do you know?


P.S. Please note, on any given day you could receive a request from an agent that you never expected to request your type of MS. It happens all the time. :)


  1. That's a good question. I'm a plot chick, so I LOVE plot-driven stories, but not with cardboard characters. And then I also love beautiful literary passages.

    So maybe I like high-concept with a literary bent.

    Continued good luck on your submissions! ;)

  2. Karen -- I'm like you. I love beautiful passages, but I prefer a tightly paced, plot-driven novel.

  3. I write plot-driven but I work hard to make my characters anything but generic. That's a challenge for me!