Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On style

I had a recent discussion with a friend about writing style and readability of certain novels. In the course, I noted that I read for content, and not to marvel at the author's artistic abilities. Some stuff I've read and found myself unable to get past page three. "Literary fiction" is not all created equally, and it isn't what I elect to read anyway. In one such book, however, I couldn't even get past the first page; the author's labor to create something artisitic and hip was painfully apparent.

In conclusion, I've come up with this analogy: Mastery of style draws attention to the content and, ironically, away from the language itself. As in clothing, great style means that the other person says, "Hey! You look great!" and not "Wow! Nice Jacket!" In other words it makes you look good as opposed to you providing a showcase for the clothing. I don't mean to say that in writing, a phrase or passage can't be meaningful if it is eloquent. I'll add another metophor to the mix: when well done, we don't notice the mechanics of the language. We enjoy the ride on the vehicle itself.

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