1. Azurisy
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    Azurisy Member

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    Writing with Artistry

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Azurisy, Jan 9, 2014.

    Dear everyone,

    I would like to discuss under the section, Word Mechanics, some issues regarding the aesthetics of writing styles. I seek to develop a very distinctive writing style. However, I need to learn and find inspiration from good authors and writings. I want to write novels beautifully and artistically, and in fact, was spending inordinate amounts of time on editing and polishing first few paragraphs with a very little substantiveness. The way in which I did this was to feel each word, according to its appearance and font on the screen and paper, and its sound, and the overall flow and imagery (meaning) of words. I am a perfectionist type of writer, who has to match his fine art and architectural design skills with writing skills in order to create richly illustrated novels.

    A few phrases, no matter the context, that appeal to me according to their imagery (meaning) as well as the written appearance, conventional word usage and sound are as follows.

    1. 'I was snowed under with...' This is a known figure of speech and I know its meaning is 'to be loaded with heavy work'. However, I want to experiment with use of words so that all phrases are logical, grammatically correct, intelligible but also aesthetically pleasant. In this case, I could write and perceive this phrase as a white lady wearing long sleeve collared shirt, and skirt, who was pale and so on. What I am trying to say may appear absolutely absurd and weird though.
    2. 'They all are jaded anyways.' I love this word jaded - it means being surfeit and wearisome. However, the reason is that this word conjures the imagery of people being 'teal and bluish'.
    3. 'I will give you a hand'. This is another lovely phrase which means willing to help.
    I also want to learn to write phrases that are multilayered, metaphorical and rich in meaning, as long as they are original, logical, sensible and lucid. There are other phrases which I dislike including:
    1. 'I will be in hot water.' This phrase, which means to be in 'trouble', doesn't look nice and exquisite. Maybe, it has to do with the letters themselves, and the word 'hot' no matter what its word usage is.
    Can anyone help me reflect on the aesthetics of words and writing? I need to analyse why some writing styles appeal to my aesthetical intellect and others don't. Also note that most formal writing styles are beautiful to see, whereas colloquial styles appear 'cranky'.

    I want to develop fluency in writing novels plus artistry. The difference here is, fluency is what makes writing readable and easy to subvocalize and follow, whereas artistry is the combination of semantic and semiotic imageries of writing.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think the important bit to remember is that the reader, once he or she has the work in their hands, has no access, nor should they have any access, to you. You, the writer, are dead. The first two examples you give are so far afield in different ways as to loose meaning to the reader. In example #1, the metaphoric image you are trying to conjure is removed by a degree of two from the flat-fact meaning. You make a metaphor of what is already a metaphor and the meaning is lost for being too many steps away from the idea. In example #2, the word jaded might evoke a gemological image for you, but not for me. I see where you draw the connection, obviously, but my mind doesn't naturally make those kinds of cross-meaning connections, so again, your effort is lost on me. Why being in hot water is an aesthetically unpleasing arrangement of words or letters to you, is not something that translates to me. I see no reason for it to be so.

    Now, with all of that said, allow me to note that I do understand, at least in part, what you are getting at. Both my parents are certified accountants and both have made mention on more than one occasion of finding certain arrangements of numerals more pleasing to the eye than others. I don't see it, but I know that the sense of aesthetic exists for some people at this level.

    What you have to ask yourself is how much of this, if any, will translate across to the reader. How much of this is paradigmatically attached to you and only you. You've already made mention of this paradigm causing you to spend an amount of time editing paragraphs that you yourself feel is too much...
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think if you want to add beauty to your writing start embracing poetry. All kinds - old & modern. The greats or even a rare volume from a used bookstore, anything that sparks your interest.

    Poetry will help you develop rhythm, concise beauty - how to say it beautifully and keep it beautifully short, unforced metaphors and symbolism.

    I love playing up duel meaning for words - i.e. Jaded worn out vs the gem. But I think if you want people to see it it's duel meaning it will have to bear some relevance to the story or it will get lost in the shuffle - It could be subtle, or as 'clever' deliberate, more word gamey, as The people of the Emerald city were jaded.

    Don't mix up artistry with fluency for the first draft. Nothing is going to sound too divine in the first draft but there is power in those first words that pour out. You really shouldn't hamper them too much or try to get them perfect. Those metaphors and meaning you love in other works are usually the result of many drafts - each layer served a purpose.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
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  4. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    "Anyways" is not a word. "Anyway" is a word. "Anyways" first came about in 1940s script writing when a writer wanted a character to appear uneducated. "Anyways" is only acceptable in spoken dialogue, and when someone in a book uses the word they come across as very young (chatspeak, slang, etc.) or uneducated. So... keep that in mind while working on your aesthetic.

    Moving forward. I was sitting with a friend at a cafe, writing in my notebook while he typed, when he asked: "Quick, Graph, give me a simile for a metal pan hitting the floor."

    I didn't know how to reply. I didn't have near enough information. What was the context of the pan hitting the floor? Because if the scene was a happy or humorous one, the simile would be markedly different from what I'd use if someone was being chased by a lunatic or suffering an emotional upheaval.

    When I explained to my friend why I couldn't just "give him a simile," I saw him have a light-bulb moment. He began going back through his writing and pinpointing all the tonal abnormalities caused by his unconsidered similes, the tense places interrupted by humorous similes and the humorous places interrupted by dark ones. The mood of the scene clarified.

    I tell that story because it encapsulates in a few quick paragraphs something I try to keep in mind when I write. I write with intention. I don't lay down a word or use a simile unless it contributes to the mood, tone, characterization, etc. Aesthetic--or your personal idea of what makes for effective writing--isn't about learning from a forum which similes to use or what metaphors are prettiest on paper. It's about working with intention and finding the right words for your piece, words that further your goals as an artist and inventor. The similes you think are glorious feats of literary engineering found on a forum page might not make any sense in your writing.

    So... Context. It's all about context. And it's about discovering as you write (with intention!) what makes your work most effective.

    I don't find all formal writing styles beautiful. Some are. Yeah. But some are stuffy and self-important and repugnant. Some colloquial styles are, on the other hand gorgeous. some are clumsy. You express in the above paragraph what your aesthetic preferences are--but you neglect to recognize that everyone's aesthetic is different, and that there is value even in what you consider "cranky."

    Asking others what makes for a good aesthetic is like asking people for their favorite foods. No two answers will be precisely the same. What you learn in this forum is secondary to what you discover for yourself as you write. Go out and read. Go on here and discuss. But never, ever let anyone feed to you what you need to discover for yourself. No one on here is going to clarify your aesthetic in a single forum post, or even in a hundred of them. Go forth, write with intention, and discover.
     
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  5. graphospasm
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    graphospasm Senior Member

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    Actually, just ignore all my blithering. Listen to this. Poetry helped me with intention more than anything. Peachalulu's got it.
     
  6. Auxuris
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    Auxuris Member

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    Perhaps a universal way of letting others feel the imagery of your words would be to get personal with the character or scene you're writing about. When you imagine a scene out, their descriptions come naturally. Not all words or phrases have the same effect on everyone, but it is hard to mistake the imagery in a close-up situation. It helps to have a broad vocabulary as creating unique descriptions are a mix of memory and the practiced ability of fixing words together smoothly. Similes tend to be overused in many writings, especially when writers try too hard. Words should never be forced: they should just feel right.

    Try not to categorise phrases into 'appealing' and 'distasteful'. No two people have the same mind, so they don't think as the writer does and hence it biases writing. Yes, this is harder than it seems as everyone does that unintentionally but just don't factor it in as a valid point when you're debating with yourself on which phrase to use. We're all different. Like how 'snowed under' makes me think of being face down on wooden ground with a thick, moderately heavy pile of snow that isn't at all cold -never experienced Winter so the temperature doesn't have such an impact on my subconsciousness- dumped on my back. Surely you've also heard of the 'cellar door' issue that many feel at odds with.

    I understand exactly what you mean by wanting this kind of writing style because I get that same feeling when I read certain paragraphs: Whoa, amazing, how do you even think that up?

    For example:
    Descriptions like these fill me with a medley of admiration and longing and inspiration. I admire the way the author comes up with such rich details that paints out perfectly in my mind, long to be able to portray my writing similarly and am inspired to find out exactly how. They aren't your regular descriptions or phrases yet most importantly, they continue to link and contribute to the story. Then I realise that these sort of descriptions appeal and stick to me because the words have a fresh perspective. It was all written as if the writer had been there, had experienced it himself. Best of all, its straight to the point. The personification of "stained glass windows held the sun back" gives me a solid impression that is hard to mistake. It is particularly noteworthy to me as windows, that we generally don't think much of, were described, in a unique way, to shade the room, which is the point all readers also think of similarly. You can't really dispute this unless you encounter the phrase frequently.

    On your view that formal styles are beautiful, I'll have to say it really depends. Some writers manage to pull formal off perfectly, but some end up boring readers with too ritual a style. Colloquial styles are not particularly cranky to me either, it depends on the attitude of the protagonist or whoever's point of view/description you're reading - even if its in third person. An example would be a story that is written almost 80% of the time through journals from the protagonist to his friends:
    It can be equally amusing, solemn or tranquil as formal writing. For more intense descriptions however, its all about finding the median point and using it in a way it appeals to most people the way you want it to. The most important thing is that the words should invoke the interest of the reader, otherwise however perfect the writing is, nobody will be reading it. Try not to write like you're describing something from a room out of the book world -which yes, you are, but not the point at the moment-. You've got to be there. Right smack in the scene observing and thinking and seeing and feeling.

    just something else also - in my opinion, originality is the most challenging thing. when i think about it: I try to be original but I get my inspiration to want to be original by the unique writing of others -wat- so it gives me a total headache lmao.

    Also, sorry if my help post here isn't professionally written or anything. Its kind of my first time posting something like this and it took quite a while of dithering too because I don't know if I'm even good enough to help but heck if I keep stalling I won't get anywhere. I also got carried away a bit and said too much oops.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    For as long as I can remember, "1776" has evoked a mental image of a column of soldiers marching, rifles shouldered. (Yes, I know - the doctor will see me now.)

    This is my thought, as well. The OP speaks to issues of the reader rather than the writer. As writers, we have to accept the fact that we have no control over how the reader will react - what emotions (s)he'll feel, what symbolism (s)he'll see or how (s)he'll see it or even what conclusions (s)he'll draw. And that can be difficult. I suspect it's the reason that so many novice writers make the mistake of trying to spoon-feed the reader, to make them draw specific conclusions (a practice that was once pointed out to me as "immature" writing).
     
  8. Azurisy
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    Azurisy Member

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    Authors from wealthy families have a more relaxed lifestyle. They must be writing novels in such a way that there is less emphasis on problems, and greater emphasis on beauty, glamour and lavishness of life. Plus, they would write with a style that is very pleasant, sedating and sweet. I am sure there is a fine line between one who writes using simplicity and another who writes grandiloquently. I am sure that the authors from wealthy families would most normally write using simplicity whereas grandiloquent authors struggle with language use as a result of living stressful life.

    Please note that this post is meant to be non-discriminatory, because I seek to find novels written by wealthy authors and learn their style. I would very much appreciate if anyone could help me find a list of good novels as described above. It is interesting, in relation to the first post that such wealthy authors might have a tendency to create 'gemological imageries', simply by virtue of writing with simplicity.

    Simplicity, as a writing style, is also an important thing for me to explore and discover in my writing illustrated novels.

    There is one thing that I don't like about the emerging wealthy authors, such as JK Rowling, because of the way she writes. I appreciate that she paints characters with lovely qualities that anyone can relate to, but the language doesn't appeal to my specific taste. There is another author who is renowned for writing very flowing novels, and he is Ernest Hemmingway. However, Ernest Hemmingway still doesn't appeal to me because of the kind of stories and world that take place in his novels.

    I look forward to hearing from experts on writing style and the art of writing, of which simplicity is a must!
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Do you have any real-life examples that demonstrate such a correlation? Anthony Trollope, who wrote extensively about British politics in Victorian England (and who had a fascination with fox hunts) was the son of a family considered "gentry" but of little means. OTOH, Leo Tolstoy was the son of Russian nobility.

    Actually, JK Rowling was on public assistance when she began writing. Her wealth has been the result of her writing success, not the other way around.

    Actually, Hemingway's style is very simple and very direct, and yet he does not emphasize "beauty, glamour and lavishness of life". His father was a physician and his family was comfortably off.
     
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  10. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    I think it's simply the images you're getting from the words that you like. The ones you like, you describe 'pleasant' visuals. The hot water line has sharp, unpleasant image connotation.

    Pleasant: The rays of light reflected off the icicles, putting on a dazzling show of lights


    Unpleasant: The icicles hung like frozen daggers
     
  11. Liam Johnson
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    Liam Johnson Member

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    Just one thing to add to what others have already said here is that the I think it's dangerous and a fallacy to regard any one style of writing as artistic and an other not. Without attempting to define art-- a whole different topic-- if we can assume that art has a direct correlation with differing cultural backgrounds around the world, we can assume language as a category of that correlation. You mentioned colloquial prose earlier and how a background of wealth affects, certainly, vocabulary and tone but nether one of these has any real artistic merit over the other, unless you apply a bedrock principle that some form of art is superior and of more value than an other. I don't, personally, believe this is true.

    I suppose if you compare the produce of one specific type of art, lets say painting for an example, and put a Monet original against a painting of a house done by a 4-year old, it would be absurd to claim the 4-year old's as the superior work. What's infinitely more difficult is trying to assign superiority to Monet's work against that of someone with equal skill and talent with the brush, say Rembrandt. You could debate for hours upon hours whom was 'superior', what style of art is superior but, ultimately, will never reach a conclusion for the simple fact that it is almost impossible to assign an objective status quo to art. It's simply too subjective.

    What I'm ultimately getting at is that you're already writing with artistry; so was Salinger and Shakespeare and Mark, Luke and John. A lot of it is the product of your background and personal tastes and abso-fucking-lutely you should pursue those but I wouldn't be so quick to discount other styles of writing as lacking or void of artistry; no more than you should look down upon me for swearing two lines above. Perhaps you wouldn't do it but for me it adds impact and weight. And art via juxtaposition.

    A more universal principle, in writing, that could impact on the flow of the prose, if you will, is rhythm. We all know it and feel it. If you're looking to improve the musicality and aesthetics of your work, that's where I would start. Raymond Chandler was a master of it and even if you didn't understand or approve of his language, the rhythm of his work was always of a sound nature.
     
  12. wade-newb
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    wade-newb Member

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    I can relate to your desire to make prose beautiful, but as Wrey put it, you aren't accessible to the reader when they're engaged in your completed work. I make the mistake of crafting a paragraph's aesthetic purely and specifically to my own tastes, and forget not to let it grow obscure for readers. So balance efficiency of prose with whichever esoteric tone you wish to conceive, and you should have a winning and unique sound.

    I would recommend looking at the writing of Steven Erikson (particularly with his Malazan series) to see how that can be achieved. His language might at times seem overwrought, but as a stylistic choice, it may be what you're looking for.

    My personal advice would be to not try too hard to craft your sound. Instead focus on the story primarily, and consider secondarily -- especially during revision -- how you might adapt and mould what you've written to suit your tastes and the feel of the piece.
     

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