Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More on Style

Style fascinates me, perhaps because I feel so limited.
My palette is always the same logical arguments.

I was thinking of changing, though. Maybe experimenting some; playing with sound--or at least thinking about it; playing with indirection, with misdirection, with the formal and the informal. Long sentences, carefully crafted, built out of many separate pieces, each working with the others, encompassing more complex and detailed ideas, can provide one side of style. Short sentences provide another side. You string them one after another. The ideas are broken. So is flow.

Another side of style is the more figurative. One day, perhaps, my writing will leap free of its earthly bonds of logic, and spring high into the air on the wings of metaphor. One day, perhaps, I'll find a metaphor that is not cliche. (incidentally, I presume that there is a way to put the accent over that terminal "e", but I don't know what it is. Anyone?)

Experimentation is probably the only way one can develop command over style. So I've recently decided that I would like to work on some stylistic exercises. I don't really think of myself as a fiction writer, but I do feel like working with to create different effects of tone and voice and style, even forms that I would never use in an academic work, will help me be more sensitive to tonal issues in academic work, too.

In short, I think it worth my effort to work on style. I'd be willing to generalize: if you ever even started a dissertation, chances are you will end up doing something that requires writing--because writing is a generally useful tool. Even if you only use writing for correspondence, you still can benefit from having more skill as a writer. But I'm mostly thinking of writers, especially academic writers; if you're an academic, you can only benefit from improving your writing skills. No matter your brilliance or insight, if you improve your writing skills, it will serve you well.

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