Style Masquerade Response

Through the Style Masquerade activity and the Style chapters we read for homework I became much more aware of the syntax and diction I use while writing. In terms of word choice, I repeatedly use certain linking and transition words such as “however,” “although,” and “in addition.” I also tend to create complex sentences that involve a lot of commas. I remember having difficulty writing the original version of the paper I rewrote for the Style Masquerade because no matter how I phrased things nothing sounded right. In contrast, rewriting the first paragraph of this same paper felt both easy and liberating. I may not have completely followed the style of my author, Zadie Smith, but just by trying to sound like someone else I felt the words come more easily. I no longer felt pressure to sound academic and instead felt free to explore different ways of phrasing things. For example, two of Zadie Smith’s essays started with a question, so I decided to change the first sentence of my paragraph to a question, which I never would have done for the official research paper format.

One thing I found interesting from the Style chapter was the idea that simplicity does not always lead to clarity. Having read George Orwell’s “Of Politics and the English Language” in high school (one of my influential writing examples), I always avoided big words for fear of sounding both pretentious and vague. Rosenwasser and Smith contested this idea by pointing out that using one big word is often more concise and less awkward than using many little words. At the beginning of this post I originally wrote “word choice” and “sentence structure” but decided to substitute these for “syntax” and “diction” in order to be more succinct.

I haven’t yet given my blogging style much thought. It’s definitely more casual than the papers I write for class but less casual than the language I use in my personal journal. In general I try to write the way I talk, meaning that my blog style would probably be classified as conversational.

For my Why I Write project I am thinking of doing an argument that builds from thesis to conclusion since I’m most comfortable with this style. For my supporting evidence I will talk about different influential factors such as my eight and tenth grade English teachers, my reasons for constantly journaling, and my reasons for choosing the writing minor despite being on a premed track. I am going to have to look back to my Letter of Interest for the Minor in Writing to make sure my arguments aren’t too similar because I think there might be some overlap.

Annie Humphrey

Boston, MA native. Senior BCN major with premed focus. I love singing, writing, and having meaningful conversations with people.

4 thoughts to “Style Masquerade Response”

  1. Annie,

    I loved reading your post. For starters, it seems like we have very similar writing styles. I also tend to use (in my case, overuse) complex sentences filled with comas. I sometimes think every other sentence in my papers starts with “although” or “that being said;” it’s nice to know someone else feels similarly!

    Having rewritten my original paper with a George Orwell-esque style, I definitely know what you mean about his dislike of “big words.” I had so much fun rewriting a paragraph like he would–or at least, attempting to–because I used more clear words that got to the point quickly. On the other hand, sometimes it is the big words that make arguments stronger. It takes up a lot less room to say “inherent” than it does to attempt to type some wordy definition.

  2. Hola Annie,

    I completely understand your post-thoughts about when we were writing a certain style of Zadie Smith. I agree with you that it allowed me to become more relaxed when I had to try to write in another person’s style. However, I still felt uncomfortable trying to transform my writing into another person’s style. I also hope to have the ability to explore different writing styles and phrasing to get to the type of style I want to type.

    With our new prompt of “Why I Write” I feel that we can definitely try writing in an different style than we are normally use to. I hope that with our conferences with Naomi, we can also gain insight on our phrasing. I will also be doing something similar to your way of responding to the prompt of an argument because I feel most comfortable writing that. Hopefully we can both improve our phrasing of words and get our argument across too!

  3. Annie,

    I would follow you and use “diction” and “syntax” instead. I totally agree with you on the point that simplicity does not always lead to clarity. I remember when I first started to learn English, my teacher told me don’t try to use complicated words to show your vocabulary because the excellent writing is the one that uses simplest words to express great ideas. Therefore, I never see my improvement in vocabulary, and there are always words that I used again and again which even made myself feel less interesting about my writing. Until I got to know research paper which requires the variety of words and accurate description and explanation. The words I used before is so general that it could not cover the specific idea. Therefore, the expansion of vocabulary began and I am still working on it today. Hope one day I can use the exact words to express my feeling.

  4. I also “tend to create complex sentences that involve a lot of commas.” I remember re-reading my MiW application essay and thinking about how I sounded very pretentious (a word you used in this post). I also agree that that I also feel “a pressure to sound academic” when writing for school. When emulating Orwell in the activity, I found writing extremely easy because there was no fear of sounding too basic. The point you made about using “syntax” and “diction” is a very good one. I think in the future when using more complex words I’ll have to ask myself “is this big word a more concise option to using multiple little words, or is it a less concise option to a single little word.” This would prevent you from going out of your way to eliminate all the large words in your writing, but still eliminate some avoidable wordiness.

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