Style of Writing

Comma, comma, comma, dash, dash, comma, semicolon, comma, period. It is a bit funny, I have been thinking about style for ages now- every writer wants to develop their own particular brand and style of writing- but I never added in sentence structure to the equation. But that is exactly how I write; I compile series of related fragments, and glue¬†them together with conjunctions, commas, dashes, and semicolons to form semi-coherent sentences. Now that I have noticed it, I cannot tell if I am doing it on purpose or mechanically. Turning my old research paper into a “Henry James-esque” piece of writing made me really aware of how different my own style can be in my personal prose vs. academic writing. In a way, the strings of long-winded sentences I concoct in my personal work mirror his style- a bit flowery, very “literary” so to speak. But it is difficult to translate that to a research paper where the style must be concise and factual, without frill. I guess that makes me wonder if a writer can (and should) adapt his or her style to reflect the type of writing her or she is working on. I think this exercise opened me up to the idea that style can be fluid, and it is not absolutely critical¬†to find a particular style and stick to it like a rigid, unforgiving template. Writers evolve throughout their careers, and styles can change. I think the examples I included in the Influential Writing Gallery definitely reflect my style as a writer. Playing into the theme of “why I write”, I write and read stories to get to know the inner thoughts of other people, and the examples I chose (two first-person novels, and a blog about the stories of everyday people) really contain the same stream of consciousness, long-winded writing style that I implement in my own writing. So finally, why I write. I touched on this a little bit, but I think writing is really my way of getting to know the people and the world around me. A big part of writing for me is saying the things that I can’t really voice in person, so in a cheesy way, I sort of use my writing as a sort of strong, witty alter ego to my otherwise laconic self. I look forward to exploring that a bit more in this essay.

 

Sonalee Joshi

Sonalee is a fourth year student in the College of LSA with an Honors major in Biopsychology, Cognition, & Neuroscience with a Sweetland Minor in Writing.

2 thoughts to “Style of Writing”

  1. I completely agree that this style masquerade exercise certainly got me thinking about how one can boil down their writing style to a few sentence structures. I think, especially as students, we become comfortable falling back on the same practices of style and tone. Our academic papers tend to be on tight deadlines and we rely on structures we are familiar with. However, I think analyzing and critiquing those repetitive structures is necessary in order to grow as a writer. The very first sentence of your blog post really emphasized this point because it distilled your writing to a few punctuation marks.

    This succinctly drove your point home- it showed that these punctuation marks can become embedded in your writing without you even realizing they can become a crutch. I think as writers we get so caught up in our flowery language sometimes we don’t realize the point we are making could be done in a different way, shorter, but more impactful. While I don’t think we should be permanently mimicking anybody else style, I do think it is important to observe and dissect other writer’s styles in order to critique and improve upon our own.

  2. Your opening statement about relying on commas and other forms of punctuations is something that I could spend hours discussing because of my own (over)reliance on punctuation. I think that the research paper you mention, and an interest in the field of science in general, may contribute to what you describe as compiling series of related fragments. Science is all about trying to gain as much knowledge as possible, and that way of thinking could carry over into your writing, influencing your decision to include multiple fragments into one sentence. I know that for my own writing, I tend to force an idea or argument completely into one sentence, when I should really slow down and spread it out over a couple shorter, and more concise sentences.

    I had never really thought of there being a difference between my speaking self and my writing self, but your description of an “alter ego” for your writing makes total sense. Many people use writing as a form of self expression, sharing thoughts and ideas with the world that they would otherwise keep to themselves. I haven’t really been able to think of too many topics for my “Why I Write” essay, but exploring my writing alter ego could lead to some good arguments.

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