Introduction To Style Of Writing

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Introduction To Style Of Writing Empty Introduction To Style Of Writing

Post by evergreen on Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:10 pm

Writing style is the manner in which a writer addresses a matter in
prose. A style reveals the writer's personality or 'voice.' It is the
result of the choices the writer makes in syntactical structures,
diction, and figures of thought. Similar questions of style exist in
the choice of spoken language.

Constraints on style
Writing in certain occupations imposes style constraints. Scholarly
writing usually avoids figures of speech and prefers precise
descriptions to colloquial terms. News reporting requires smaller
words, even if colloquial, and shorter sentences, to be easy to read by
everyone in a general audience. Fiction writing, in contrast, is
designed to entertain and arouse the reader, and is improved by the
judicious use of figures of speech. A judge's verdict needs precision
to explain the judge's reasoning, but often uses literary devices to
persuade the reader of its correctness.
A writer can combine personal style with the style expected in the
occupation, but doing so to excess may distract from the purpose. A
scientific paper with excessive personal style may make the reader
question its seriousness; a news article with excessive personal style
may make the reader doubt the author's neutrality. Fiction written in
the customary style of a scientific paper would not keep the reader
The writer needs to know who the reader is. This dictates the
differences in occupational style noted above, but also constrains
style within an occupation or setting. The author needs to answer the
following questions regarding the audience:
• How well does the reader read? Using excessively complex language
when writing to children or to the general public will hinder
communication, but using excessively simple language when writing to a
trained audience will seem condescending.
• What does the reader know? Spending words explaining things that the
reader already knows will make the reader lose interest. However,
communication is impossible if the writer assumes knowledge the reader
does not have.

[edit] Situation and purpose
The author needs to tailor style to the situation. For example, the
same person writing a letter to the same reader would use different
style depending on whether it is a letter of complaint, a letter of
condolence, or a business letter. The author needs to decide whether
the goal of the writing is to inform, persuade, or sympathize.
Stylistic choices
Sentence forms
A writer controls not only the density of prose but its distribution.
Within the rules of grammar, the writer can arrange words in many ways.
A sentence may state the main proposition first and then modify it; or
it may contain language to prepare the reader before stating the main

Varying the style may avoid monotony. However, in technical writing,
using different styles to make two similar utterances makes the reader
ask whether the use of different styles was intended to carry
additional meaning.

Stylistic choices may be influenced by the culture. In the modern age,
for instance, the loose sentence has been favored in all modes of
discourse. In classical times, the periodic sentence held equal or
greater favor, and during the Age of Enlightenment, the balanced
sentence was a favorite of writers.
The loose sentence
The most common sentence in modern usage, the loose sentence begins
with the main point (an independent clause), followed by one or more
subordinate clauses. For example:
Uncle Tom's Cabin is a very influential novel, having its
self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality, much in common with Little
Women (James Baldwin).
The cat sat on the mat, purring softly, having licked his paws
According to Francis Christensen:
The loose sentence ... characterized the anti-Ciceronian movement in
the seventeenth century. This movement, according to Morris W. Croll
[“The Baroque Style in Prose,” (1929)] began with Montaigne and Bacon
and continued with such men as Donne, Browne, Taylor, Pascal. To
Montaigne, its art was the art of being natural; to Pascal, its
eloquence was the eloquence that mocks formal eloquence; to Bacon, it
presented knowledge so that it could be examined, not so that it must
be accepted. (in Winterowd, 'Contemporary Rhetoric: A Conceptual
Background with Readings,' p.348)
The periodic sentence
In contrast, a periodic sentence places the main point in the middle or
at the end of the sentence. In the former case, the main point is
modified by subordinate clauses before and after its position in the
sentence. In the latter case, the main point is modified by preceding
subordinate clauses.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. (Henry David Thoreau)
The purpose of such form is well-stated by Adams Sherman Hill in The Foundation of Rhetoric (1897):
To secure force in a sentence, it is necessary not only to choose the
strongest words and to be as concise as is consistent with clearness,
but also to arrange words, phrases, and clauses in the order which
gives a commanding position to what is most important, and thus fixes
the attention on the central idea.
The balanced sentence
A balanced sentence is characterized by parallel structure: two or more
parts of the sentence have the same form, emphasizing similarities or
Depending on the mode in which the writer is writing, diction can also
pertain to the writer's style. Argumentative and expository prose on a
particular subject matter frequently makes use of a set of jargon in
which the subject matter is commonly discussed. By contrast, narrative
and descriptive prose is open to the vast variety of words. Insofar as
a style of diction can be discerned, however, it is best to examine the
diction against a number of spectrums:
• Abstract-concrete: how much of the diction is physical?
• General-specific: to what degree is the diction precise, to what degree is it vague?
• Denotation-connotation
• Literal-metaphorical
Other attributes of diction include:
• Density
• Length
The connotation of a word refers to the special associations, apart
from its dictionary definition, that it may convey. Connotation
especially depends on the audience. The word "dog" denotes any animal
from the genus canis, but it may connote friendship to one reader and
terror to another. This partly depends on the reader's personal
dealings with dogs, but the author can provide context to guide the
reader's interpretation.

Deliberate use of connotation may involve selection of a word to convey
more than its dictionary meaning, or substitution of another word that
has a different shade of meaning. The many words for dogs have a
spectrum of implications regarding the dog's training, obedience, or
expected role, and may even make a statement about the social status of
its owner ("lap dog" versus "cur"). Even synonyms have different
connotations: slender, thin, skinny may each convey different images to
the reader's mind. The writer should choose the connotation, positive,
negative, or neutral, that supports the mood.

Writing for the learned, connotation may involve etymology or make
reference to classic works. In schoolbooks, awareness of connotation
can avoid attracting extraneous ideas (as when writing "Napoleon was a
bigger influence than Frederick the Great on world history" provokes
thoughts of Napoleon's physical stature). In encyclopedias, words
should connote authority and dispassion; the writer should avoid words
whose connotations suggest bias, such as pejorative words.


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تاريخ التسجيل : 2010-02-03

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