Style


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Thread: Style

  1. #1

    Style

    The protestant propogandists introduced the concepts of 'Prose so plain, that the least child in the town may understand thee', and to write well was to 'Speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do.'
    Before that writing was the province of the elite who 'interlace phrases with Italian terms, powder style with French, English or inkhorn rhetoric to feed the dainty ears of delicate yonkers'.

    Do you like your language plain and simple, or do you savor rhetoric, long words, and flowery phrases? Do you write seriously of serious matters, or do you agree 'Jesting is lawful by circumstance even in the greatest matters' ?

    Yonkers, later younkers, by the way, means young people, not inhabitants of the city by New York.

    I imagine that most will go for 'plain', but I do know those who read Dickens avidly for his florid prose, I can't accept that one is The Correct Way, nor that the other should always be rejected, although it is now a matter of style. One Bishop in the sixteenth century rejected plain prose because it meant common people were discussing matters that were the prerogative of Kings, I guess we all do that now.
    Apologies I have duplicated the last two videos in error. Give me time I will find out how to delete the duplicates, in the meantime avoid the ones with a date instead of a title.

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    Stories from just over two minutes to just over sixteen minutes long, listen while you work, my friend listens whilst doing her work e-mails Hidden Content
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  2. #2
    I think someone (don't remember who) said something like "don't write what readers skip over." It's not that simple, of course. A lot depends on genre, some readers expect a certain style, and authors give it to them to sell books. It's nice to have a good vocabulary, but it's important to know when not to use it. Personally, I'll read anything if I'm interested in the subject, but writing I usually go for plain - especially if I'm writing mystery/crime fiction.
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  3. #3
    I enjoy both, as long as 'flowery' doesn't mean 'purple'. I divide fiction authors into two groups: writers and storytellers. It's rare to find someone who is good at both. I'll put Stephen King in the storyteller group. I've read most of his work, and enjoy the plotting and characters, but his prose is mundane, and rarely surprises me. James Lee Burke is in the writer category. His stories are pretty ordinary, as regards plot, but his writing style is complex and I often find myself stopping and re-reading a paragraph, just to enjoy his talent with the language.

  4. #4








    ~ * ~

    My prose, Catholic in style, reads early Presbyterian re: complexity of subject.


    ~ * ~




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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post








    ~ * ~

    My prose, Catholic in style, reads early Presbyterian re: complexity of subject.


    ~ * ~


    Swap 'His' for 'My' in the first word and have it as an epitaph
    Apologies I have duplicated the last two videos in error. Give me time I will find out how to delete the duplicates, in the meantime avoid the ones with a date instead of a title.

    Changelings, my latest story is a science fiction story.

    Stories from just over two minutes to just over sixteen minutes long, listen while you work, my friend listens whilst doing her work e-mails Hidden Content
    Hidden Content


    A thread of links useful to writers wishing to learn
    Piglet's picks. Hidden Content

  6. #6
    Use the words and phrasing that is appropriate to the character POV, the scene, and the mood. I try to use the right word at the right moment.

  7. #7
    For me, it depends on the story. In plot based fiction, I tend to write more plainly. Basic third person past POV -- he did this, she did that, etc. Not that there aren't compound sentences and metaphors and such, but usually if I'm writing third past, it's because I want to tell a story, and I want the writing to convey the story without drawing attention to itself. In character based fiction, where I often default to present tense with a preference towards first person POV (though I've used third present here as well), it's usually a lot heavier on the flowery side of things. Not always though. Style doesn't necessarily have to mean Dickens. I once wrote a flash piece about a goldfish swimming in a bowl on a kitchen table. It consisted of mostly simple sentences and a lot of repetition and frequent call outs to the setting. It's probably the most artistic (and stylized) piece I've ever written, and also the most bare bones, prose wise. Ten-ish years later, it's still my favorite story of mine.
    "A word after a word after a word is power."
    -Margaret Atwood

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Earp View Post
    Stephen King ... but his prose is mundane, and rarely surprises me.
    This is a normal thing to say, but my subjective opinion is that King is a master craftsman for writing clearly in a way that feels effortless and friendly to read. Which is to say, he doesn't just decide to write plainly, he's really good at that; he would be almost impossible to imitate without a lot of skill.

    In the grammar book I am working on, I have high praise for his use of "the gun" instead of "a gun" -- I would never have thought to write "the gun", but it works brilliantly. Does that count as surprising? It's not flowery, but is it plain?

    But yes, his goal is to tell the story, and if his writing draws no attention that's probably good. Or, to be more precise, he is not just providing information, he is creating a reader experience. He is usually plain, but not when he needs more.

    From above them came a man's voice, heavily disapproving: "If you need to talk. You should go. Somewhere else." (page 377, Lisey's Story)
    My website (Hidden Content ) has good essays on starting a book and using metaphoricals.

  9. #9
    Can you give an example of the same sentence in both plain and flowery style?

    Like, on of my books begins "My friends are discussing shoes." That must be plain, but I don't know what the flowery version would be.

    I have another that begins: "Her father suddenly threw aside his newspaper and jumped to his feet."

    Would it be more flowery if he leapt or exploded or popped? If I added a metaphor?

    What if I added more detail?
    Last edited by EmmaSohan; October 25th, 2020 at 06:47 PM.
    My website (Hidden Content ) has good essays on starting a book and using metaphoricals.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    I imagine that most will go for 'plain', but I do know those who read Dickens avidly for his florid prose, I can't accept that one is The Correct Way, nor that the other should always be rejected, although it is now a matter of style. One Bishop in the sixteenth century rejected plain prose because it meant common people were discussing matters that were the prerogative of Kings, I guess we all do that now.
    Do you think Dickens' style is florid, Olly? I always thought that it was fairly accessible stylistically, certainly compared to other nineteenth century writers.

    Anyway, my thing is this: Stylistically, I like simple...and I like complex. For me, the issue isn't whether something should be one or the other, the issue is whether it needs to be.

    I think most writers don't actually get to choose their level of stylistic complexity, because most writers write according to their own personal comfort level and that of their audience. Basically, we're all trying to be as 'advanced' as we can be without wandering into gibberish. But if you write YA, or commercial thriller fiction, you CAN'T write in long-winded metaphors regardless of how 'good' you may be at them, because the audience doesn't want that shit.

    Similarly, if you're targeting literary fiction, if your goal is to write 'highbrow' stuff of the sort that might make it into an NPR segment or be discussed as 'serious fiction'...you probably need to push the envelope as far as style. If your story is 'gothic' in flavor it needs to be 'gothic' in style, right? Gothic fiction usually needs some 'flowers'.

    But can you do that? I can want to write elaborately all I want, but if I simply don't have the intellect and/or skill to use words, it's going to crash and burn. 99.9% of the time I am going to write as high a caliber as I can without losing control. This will place my work as either being simple or complex, depending on who is reading it.

    So, part of it's genre/reader constraints, part of it is writer ability. I would suggest a relatively tiny part of how complicated something is comes down to choice.

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