Style Isn’t a Personal Predilection

Most people, when they write something, give very little consideration to the style that they are using. After all, when we are knocking up a shopping list or hurriedly scribbling a note for someone to tell them that we will be late for dinner we hardly have the time to check our work for prosidy or to admire our alliteration. Nevertheless even these random scribbling tend to conform to a certain style of writing that is useful to our immediate needs. The tabular form of a shopping list fits our concept of the appropriate form of a document that is used to buy our weekly groceries and it wouldn’t be nearly as useful or appropriate if it was written in prose: We shall go to the potato crisp aisle and pick up a large bag of Doritos then down to the pasta aisle for a half kilo bag of fusili, and so on is not as practical as a list is. When we write a note to our grandmother we don’t use the same language or formatting as when we correspond with a lover. All of these written works possess a style it’s just that we are not aware of them as stylized documents.

For most writers the word style is indicative of their personal voice and the way that they use words in order to get their message across. But on a more technical level writing style denotes a method of writing and formatting a document to conform to a set of standards with the aim of making written collections of material consistent from one document to the next. There are literally dozens of different writing styles, many of which are structured for specific fields like journalism, legal papers or academic research. Most commonly the style employed is the Chicago Style which is well suited to writing clear reports for business or mostly non-academic research. Nearly all newspapers use the Associated Press (AP) Style Guide for formatting news items for print and most of us are familiar with its characteristic first person voice and direct mode of relating the facts of a story. A style that is very commonly used for writing academic research papers is the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style of writing which has strict rules for formatting, endnotes and reference citation that makes the docoments that are formatted this way easy for students to use.

Anyone that desires to work as a writer will eventually run across the requirement to present their written material in a formal style. Many magazines stipulate that they only accept articles that are in the Chicago Style for instance, and journalists of course will have to write in the style that their newspaper uses so it may be that to write for the Times in London you would have to use the Times Style and Usage Guide for your latest scoop to be acceptable to the editors. This has been a big part of my own learning curve as a writer this year as my work is getting into more places and I have been required to learn new styles for my writing. On the whole this has been a broadening experience and has taught me how to put on many different hats as an author that has to write for a variety of applications. The time that I have spent learning different styles has not been wasted by any stretch of the imagination.

So my advice for any up and coming writers out there is to start learning to adapt to different styles now. A good place to start is The Chicago Manual of Style or even the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, and from there to have a go at writing something by the rules laid out. As writers we still have our own personal style but learning to take on someone else’s style not only improves your writing skill it increases the chance that you will sell something that you’ve written.


About dgmattichakjr

D G Mattichak jr was born in 1963 in Syracuse New York and immigrated to Melbourne Australia with his family in 1972. He was educated in one of Melbourne’s exclusive private schools before studying art at Preston Technical College. D G Mattichak jr has been a student of the occult arts since the early 1980s and has become well known in Australian magickal circles and, in recent years, around the world due to a string of essays on a variety of occult subjects . He discovered the “key to the order & value of the English alphabet” from Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law in 1983 and has since used this English Qabalah to unlock the secrets of Thelemite magick. Success in these methods admitted him to the highest levels of attainment in various Hermetic disciplines and until recently he has been passing on his knowledge to private students, many of whom have gone on to become notable occultists in their own right. After almost three decades of study and development D G Mattichak jr has finally been able to distil his knowledge of magick and Thelema into a book- A Comment on the Verses of the Book of the Law, the first in a planned series of books on Hermeticism and Thelemite magick, revealing, for the first time in over a century, the secrets of magick that have been hidden in Crowley’s magnum opus, the Book of the Law. D G Mattichak jr currently lives in Melbourne Australia with his artist wife Michelle and their two cats. He has had a long career as an al a carte chef in Melbourne’s vibrant hospitality scene and now spends his time writing blogs on cooking, writing and, in the guise of Master Ankh af na Khonsu, about magick. He is also one of the founding members of the Mt Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering and regularly contributes to its official website as both an administrator and as an author. D G Mattichak jr’s first book Loot was released in 2009. His books are available through at G Mattichak&x=13&y=20 .
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2 Responses to Style Isn’t a Personal Predilection

  1. Ed Hurst says:

    Learning the Chicago Manual of Style (via Kate Turabian) was what convinced me I was not cut out for an advanced degree in History. I turned down two offers for it in college, and don’t regret it one bit.

    • School wasn’t the place for me either Ed. I often think that it is the smartest people that get out of school so that they can begin to learn to think for themselves. By profession I am a chef and as they say in the kitchen- you can read all of the cookbooks that you like but it is only by standing at the stove in the heat that you actually learn to cook anything. Now that I am getting too old to cook I have turned my sights towards making a living at something else that I love to do even if learning the formal rules is a bit painful. In order to have my books published I have to format them properly too so I see this as no different- and an excellent mental challenge!
      History Ed! I wouldn’t have picked you as a student of history but now that I know it makes me all the more keen to keep reading your stuff.

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