As a disclaimer: I read mainly speculative fiction -- science fiction, fantasy, horror -- fantastique -- weird fiction -- whatever you want to call it . . . but I'd guess that what I have to say will hold true no matter what "genre" you're in. I'm really getting tired of so many speculative fiction writers unwilling to take risks in their writing and to carve out an individual style, settling instead for flat, affectless prose whose only purpose is to move the action along. I personally enjoy fast-paced action as much as the next guy, but more and more I find myself looking for something . . . well, something more. And when I think about it, there are very few currently writing authors that I can think of who have a very distinctive writing style. There are some very good writers, and some very efficient and word-wise writers, but there are very few whom I can think of where if you showed me a snippet of their writing out of context, I'd be able to say, "so-and-so wrote that." Richard Calder, Matt Stover, and to some extent Neil Gaiman, and a few others have, IMO, a really distinct style to their writing. Is a distinctive style important? What writers really have their own distinctive writing styles?