April 16, 2006

Style

Stylistic considerations are important, and not only for aesthetic reasons. Style helps you build up your identity—for better or worse.

Sometimes I try to employ a brusque writing style. Without seeming rude. Short sentences rock. They’re full of energy.

I like putting pauses in the middle of a sentence, even the short ones. My sentences keep contradicting themselves.

I can be wordy, but don’t like to consult a dictionary too often. I tend to guess a word’s meaning: often I’m wrong but I like it that way. Long, flowing paragraph-length sentences are fun to read when written well; which I sometimes strive to do, but oft times with disastrous results.

I like semi-colons; but respect the fact that they’re not really all that necessary. They’re obsolete, and quite easy to over-use; I like ’em anyway.

But nothing beats my love for the humble apostrophe. Ain’t it wonderful? Hate it when it’s incorrectly employed.

Grammar’s important. So’s correct typography. But I try not to be pedantic. Haven’t got a clue about most rules of grammar really, I just go for what feels right.

Short paragraphs are easier to read. Text should not be too wide on the screen. Use a column-based layout if you can. Once you’ve written a few hundred pages, you can be allowed to write paragraphs longer than six lines.

Use of slang and/or inside terms if cool. Inventing words is cooler. Inventing styles that take a life of their own is the epitome of cool.

I love self-referential writing. Here I am, writing for you, dear reader! What can be more fun than this? Usually I’m better at hiding references, but the directness here was to make a point.

Style is valuable only when you create your own, and so long as we keep re-inventing ourselves. Does your style arise from who you are, or is it that you slowly change into something your style will be comfortable with? Some questions give you headaches: they’re the best kind.

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6 comments:

Sunil Natraj said...

Lovely Anks. I like the "style"

The Unrest Cure said...

Does your style arise from who you are, or is it that you slowly change into something your style will be comfortable with?

That's a chicken-and-egg kind of question; your style evolves as you do. About comfort, it really depends on whether you want to be comfortable or not. Sometimes a change in style is necessary to jerk you out of your inertia. It doesn't always work, but it adds to your range. Nothing wrong with experimentation. Nothing wrong with exploring different styles or even trying to create one.

Here's something for you to read.

Ankit said...

Re: Bodywork
That's one weird story, and I can't say I liked it particularly... Reminded me of Palahniuk.

Rachna said...

That was a great post.

wonder if you read arundhati roy?

"Language is a very reflexive thing for me. I don't know the rules, so I don't know if I've broken them."

"For me, the way words and paragraphs fall on the page matters as well - the graphic design of the language. That was why the words and thoughts of Estha and Rahel were so playful on the page... Words were broken apart, and then sometimes fused together. "Later" became "Lay. Ter." "An owl" became "A Nowl". "Sour metal smell" became "sourmetalsmell".

That's her talking about writing 'God of Small Things'.
The article made me think of her.

Ankit said...

God, I *hated* God of Small Things...

Probably due to the fact that I read it while I was in Goa with friends, was so sick that I couldn't have any fun and had to stay at the hotel.

That was around four yaers ago, don't think I'll get the chance (or time) to re-read it now.

The Unrest Cure said...

The thing with bodywork is that it kept me hooked. Somehow that's become a major criteron for me and I have a 20 page threshhold for any book. I didn't get beyond three of God of small things. I don't think writing has to necessarily beautiful as long as it is impactful. Palahniuk is an obvious case in point, though usually some of his work is so sickening that I turn on the tv and get my mind off intestines being sucked out by a jacuzzi. Palahniuk's lessons on style are great, though.