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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Style And The Man

Ben Yagoda has written about the New Journalism, about the cultural impact of The New Yorker, and most recently, about style in writing in The Sound On The Page, a book one is eagerly waiting to get one's hands on.

Here are extracts from a recent interview:

"In my own writing, I am more aware of the quiet things that distinguish those of us stylists not on the Hemingway/Faulkner/Tom Wolfe level. We have our own individual styles, even though no one but ourselves and a few close friends may be aware of them. I am, for example, constantly managing my predilection for parentheses: deleting enough so that my prose won't be too convoluted, but keeping enough so that it will sound like me. I even use parentheses in an interview!"

On pleasing editors: "The best tack, I think, would be to work on the quiet style I was just referring to: style not as rampaging alliteration (for example) but as expression in subtle deviations from the norm that somehow suit the way you see the world and feel comfortable expressing yourself. What editor would object if you have slightly more parentheses than normal, or your paragraphs are slightly longer than average, or you indulged in a little irony now and then? All those things can be elements of a style.

On copying out great writing: "Try it, you'll like it! Seriously, the single best means of becoming a strong, original writer and mindful writer is to read, as widely as possible. When you involve your fingers in the reading, you somehow absorb the words on a deeper level. Hey, if it worked for Somerset Maugham, Benjamin Franklin and Chip Scanlan, it's got to have something going for it."

There's also an excerpt from the book, entitled Seven Style Tips. Budding authors out there: this is worth reading.


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