What kind of writing style is the most engaging? Any tips on how to communicate well with the reader?

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To some extent, the style (or tone) of a piece needs to fit with the nature of the genre. If you’re writing comedy (or dramedy) that calls for one sort of tone, rom-com maybe something a little different.

But generally write in a simple, direct way, clean and clear for the reader. Do that and it’s hard to go wrong. It’s the tone I’m using now. Nothing fancy or elaborate, and you don’t need to describe things down to a gnat’s eyebrow because “perception is inference.” By that I mean when you look at a tree, you think you understand its roundness, the texture of its bark, etc. etc. But really what you are perceiving optically with your eyes is about 10% of what you think you’re seeing, the other 90% is provided by everything you’ve ever seen, all your memories, etc. etc.

Here’s an example:

The interior of the café was dark to his eyes after the glare outside. A girl going out passed him by; she wore a white dress and carried a broad-brimmed straw hat; he caught the warm waft of her perfumed skin that trailed behind her. He imagined himself turning on his heel and following after her and taking her by the elbow and walking with her out into the hazy heat of the summer day. He did not relish the prospect of Billy Hunt and his dead wife.”

— The Silver Swan: A Novel (Quirke Book 2) by Benjamin Black

Okay, as you read it, did you picture in your mind’s eye a very specific image of the girl passing him? Of course you did, you couldn’t help it. And yet what is actually in the passage above that describes her: a girl, wore a white dress, carried a broad-brimmed straw hat, after her the warm waft of her perfumed skin. Those are the only clues in the passage that actually describe her. But what appeared in your imagination when you read it was an attractive young woman, perhaps smiling, you saw her hair, her dress, had an impression of her face, you had an image of her, the sort of girl she was, maybe a bit flirtatious, probably brown-eyed, long brunette hair falling over her shoulders . . . From the meager details in the text you generated a remarkable image THAT CAME FROM YOUR IMAGINATION not from the words on the page.

Keep this in mind when you’re writing descriptions.

Good luck.

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