Discovering Style

Style exercises such as the Style Masquerade always give me a lot to think about. Mimicking another writer’s style heightens my awareness of my own style. I begin to relate to their flaws or admire their structures that I may not necessarily have thought of. Andrew Sullivan in particular was an interesting case because his writing was informal in the context of academic writing but formal in the context of blogging. Thus, his writing made me consider a lot about the role perspective and audience has to play in crafting one’s style. Furthermore, I realized by reading his work as well as the style chapters, how much more effective tight, concise writing can be in comparison to flowery language. When somebody delivers a succinct, brief paragraph rather than a long winded one, the impact is even longer lasting. While reiterating this lesson to my brother he repeated a funny but accurate Mark Twain quote: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead.” This quote really emphasizes the idea that length is not always equivalent to quality. Rather, especially for me, it’s actually harder to edit one’s work down.

Reading the style chapters was interesting because it reminded me of many technical terms and sentences structures I may have forgotten the formal names of but that I use everyday. Even in the Influential Writing Gallery, every post is full of different kind of structures and clauses. These are the building blocks of our writing from emails to classic novels. It is always valuable to break down these impactful pieces of writing to these building blocks to see how to not just admire them, but to create similar pieces. This also got me thinking about why I write. As I’ve been discovering through this exploratory exercise, I write to elucidate certain thoughts and connections. Whether my own emotions or a response classmate’s blog post, writing on a subject enables me to uncover certain bridges in thought that build upon my character as a person and a writer. The more I write, the more I learn about myself and other people surrounding me.

Anisha Nandi

I am a Communications and SAC double major pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. I am originally form New York but love being at U of M. I enjoy playing soccer, spending time with my family and being outdoors. I have always loved writing, especially creatively.

2 thoughts to “Discovering Style”

  1. I totally agree with you that editing work down can be one of the harder parts of the revision process. I would most likely classify my writing style as “flowery,” as you put it, so finding a way to make my argument more concise is something I need to work on. I haven’t read any of Sullivan’s work, but I plan to now that I know he is a good example of a writer with a “to the point” style. A writer I have read for other English classes, and we will be reading in the class, who is a good example of “flowery” writing is Joan Didion. Because you mention that your style can sometimes be more wordy than necessary, you might find her writings interesting, as she has successfully written many pieces with a similar style, even though many readers find her too long and wordy. “Goodbye to All That” was a piece that I read last year that I particularly enjoyed.

  2. I definitely resonated with your point about concise writing. I think as writers, we tend to think that lengthy writing is somehow more sophisticated and literary and forget how to just get to the point. I think it kind of ties in to what we talked about with “What Counts as Writing”. Social media is almost forcing brevity in writing nowadays and it’s important to cater to that short style. It also took me a second to remember that certain sentence structures actually have names- no one tells you to “add more compound sentences” to your essays anymore, but it’s still important to understand what types might work best for a particular style or genre of writing.

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