How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word | Brain Pickings

How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word | Brain Pickings.

by

“The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not.”

 

Kurt Vonnegut has given us some of the most timeless advice on the art and craft of writing — from his 8 rules for a great story to his insights on the shapes of stories to his formidable daily routine. But hardly anything examines the subject with a more potent blend of practical advice and heart than Vonnegut’s 1985 essay “How to Write with Style,” published in the wonderful anthology How to Use the Power of the Printed Word (UK; public library).

 

Vonnegut begins with an admonition against the impersonal sterility of journalistic reporting — something particularly important amidst contemporary debates about how personal the writerly persona should be — and a meditation on the single most important element of style:

 

Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writing. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.

These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful–? And on and on.

Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your reader will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an ego maniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.

 

 

Advertisements
About

It's all learning and teaching to me!!! In addition I love writing, sports, social media and the Greek island Crete, my second home!!!

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Writing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Watson

Watson

It's all learning and teaching to me!!! In addition I love writing, sports, social media and the Greek island Crete, my second home!!!

View Full Profile →

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 158 other followers

Follow Watson's Blog on WordPress.com
July 2013
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
CURRENTLY READING

Colson Whitehead ‘Underground Railroad’

THE CRETAN WAY

A 28-DAY WALK ALONG THE CRETAN E4

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

lit21

Just another WordPress.com site

Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

So many books, so little time

heavenali

Book reviews by someone who loves books ...

%d bloggers like this: