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Is style determined by content?

  1. Yes, certain kinds of thoughts, when expressed, will sound only a certain way.

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  2. No, style is a choice made by the writer.

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  1. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    Is style determined by the nature of a thought?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Sep 16, 2017.

    This might seem like a dumb question, but does the nature of the content of what you are writing determine which styles you can use? Are some thoughts more likely to lend themselves to a certain kind of cadence or voice? Or do we have freedom to choose what style we will write in? This is not a question of what styles are appropriate for certain thoughts, but of what styles are able to express them.
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I want to note that while cadence seems to be your absolute top priority, it's not for most writers. You seem to equate it with voice, while I see it as one of the many elements of voice, and not necessarily a very important one.
     
  3. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    I agree with @ChickenFreak. I don't think most of us really give a lot of thought to cadence (though I could be wrong). The poets do, of course, and if I was putting lyrics or poetry in a story, then cadence would be important. And cadence does, for sure, have a place in certain situations, but it's not something that I worry about. Honestly, if I did worry about it to the degree that you appear to, I don't think I'd ever get anything at all written.
     
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  4. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I don't know about 'thought' as such - I'm struggling to understand what you mean. Do you mean the writer's thoughts or the character's thoughts?

    I know that style can and should reflect action. A fight scene should be quick and snappy, to mirror the urgency.

    But thought... well, I don't really understand.
     
  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah I don't think about it at all. I write in probably as plain a fashion as anyone ever has. I 'm not really a fan of writing that's overly literary or formal so I wouldn't want to write that way either. I write the way you might tell someone about your day at work or what you did on vacation; very informal and conversational, with imprecision as well as the occasional slang or swear word tossed in.
     
  6. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    Well, one thing I noticed is that a single work of prose can have mostly either short or long distances between punctuation, or can have either simple or sophisticated sentence structures. I wonder if this is a reflection of the thought, not as though the authors chose to express them that way, but as though that mode of expression emerged from the thoughts themselves. Of course, that makes little sense to me because it is not just a small part of the work that is expressed in a certain way, but the entire piece.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  7. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    It's not as though cadence is my only aim, but even when trying to read the works of modern authors, I find myself uninterested for a lack of cadence, whereas the prose of the King James Bible is much more enjoyable to me. So not only do I have the steadfast desire to add cadence to my own prose, but I am also discouraged from learning from modern authors. If there is anything I can learn from them, it is what pertains to my other aim, content.

    Even though content is also my aim, cadence is very important to me.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    That sounds like cadence is indeed your primary priority.
     
  9. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    I think you're talking about authorial voice. (It's not the same as character voice.) It's consistent through scenes and even across books. It's almost like the fingerprint of the author. It does change over time (okay, so not entirely like a finger), but you can still recognize who's writing. It has certain characteristics: length of phrase, verbosity, the poetic flow, rhythm, a thousand others, and on and on, etc.

    The authorial voice is the foundation. It's made up of vocabulary, grammar, and style (rhetoric). Each of those can be simple or complex, poetic or literal, informal or formal . . . really there's limitless descriptors. Style is the broadest category, IMO (I don't see how it can be argued, but someone will :dead:). That's where you'll find the most nuance. So look up authorial voice and see what you can find there. To really master it though, you'll have to know the big three (voc, gram, style), and that takes . . . a while.

    This article's okay. It might send you on the track for what you're exploring:
    http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10317

    It mentions the "implied author," which I like. Because it is possible to have more than one voice.
     
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  10. Dakota14breyer

    Dakota14breyer New Member

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    I've always appreciated the level of detail that some authors have in descriptions, so I've used 3rd person omniscient for most of my writing. I tried first person, but it seemed rather clunky and better suited to YA novels than the sagas I enjoy to read and attempt to write. I think it's just personal preference by the author.
     
  11. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    I think that in every good work of prose, there must be some kind of cadence, for without cadence no writing is able to flow. For even without any notable cadence, many works are smooth in flow, but without any cadence altogether none would be able to flow.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    But it sounds like you plan to achieve cadence first and meaning second. And that's not working for you. Your posts are usually coherent; your samples of the cadence-focused writing are usually all but impossible to understand

    Again, I suggest that you write a piece of fiction in your coherent posting voice. What's the worst that can happen?
     
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  13. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    I understand that content is primary, and style secondary, but is it hard for me to write without revising.

    Five years ago I wrote a five-paragraph piece with a kind of poetic cadence. I wrote and revised each paragraph of that piece one at a time, sometimes revising a sentence after I had written it, and once revising the first paragraph after I had written the second. It seems that at that time, I managed much more successfully to write without revising, though I did revise while writing it. But parts of the piece had the cadence already, having little need of revision, some phrases having popped into my head on the way home from work, at the time I was walking to the bus stop, the usual time that I would look at my surroundings and search for metaphors to use in my piece.

    I believe for this reason that in those days a sense of rhythm was in me, accompanied with the power to express myself clearly, which for one reason or another, in the past five years I have lost. Now it must be admitted, that before I wrote this piece, I became quite familiar with the Elements of Style, (for this reason it contained no passive voice), and that I most likely realized how simple it was to apply a song melody to lyrics, something which likely helped me understand the nature of rhythm in language. But as for whether I learned this before or after I wrote that piece, I do not know. What I do know is this, that being familiar with the Elements of Style, and having a sense of poetic, prose rhythm, not by first writing without revising, but by attending to rhythm and revising often, I produced a work considered well-written by everyone who read it. Now among those things I must admit, also there is this: All the sentences contained in that piece were relatively short. So through these three things I managed to write that piece.

    So I think I work best when revising often, perhaps not after every word, or after every sentence, but often nonetheless. And I think I work best when attending to rhythm as I draft. It seems, however, that over the past five years, my writing was often devoid of sense. But yet, in the latter part of those years, there were some paragraphs I had written, pervaded by cadence and mostly clear. In them were only few phrases that were unclear, a truth I did not verify through others, but a truth according to my confidence, which I did not have in all of my writings criticized in the past.

    Unfortunately, I no longer have the piece which I spoke of, for I had posted it on a site which has since been shut down.

    Now pardon me for writing a post with so unpleasant a sound. While I was writing it, I wanted to make it smooth, but I was not willing to spend the time to perfect it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    You say that, but it sounds like you're not getting any meaningful amount of work done. How can you say that you "work best", when no work is produced?

    What would happen if you wrote a whole piece before you started editing for cadence? Yes, you might find that you would be unable to edit the piece to your satisfaction. What would that mean? Would it be the end of the world? Would it be horrible?

    As far as I can tell, it would mean that one experiment, of a thousand experiments that you could try, would have failed. There is nothing, nothing, wrong with failed experiments.

    This post that I'm quoting? This post was one of your more clear, coherent, readable, and generally satisfactory posts on this forum.
     
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  15. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    I started to read Ellis Peter's Afterglow and Nightfall (having read and enjoyed some of her other books); it was written in a specific cadence that I believe she adopted to make it "more Welsh" (the book is about the reign and fall of the last Princes of the royal house of Gwynedd). It was quite sing-song, and I found it so irritating that I was unable to finish the book.
     
  16. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Banned

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    But even when aiming for no special cadence, I still revise as I write, as also I do in every post. Is that bad?
     
  17. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, I tend to revise whilst writing too; including forum posts.

    I'm not one of those who can happily bash out 50k words as a "it doesn't matter, it's only a first draft". Which is probably one of the reasons why I struggle to get something/anything finished.

    But every time I pause in the writing because the "flow" just isn't carrying me along any more, I re-read the last paragraph to remind myself of where I've got to...and out comes that SPaG/logic/characterization/plot/research monitor, and I have to go back and correct it, or check my facts, or...
     
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