Style

These eleven essays offer techniques for improving your prose style. Although style is a topic addressed in many books on writing, I found that these books either:

1. Presented some useful tips on style hidden among other subjects.

2. Expected grammatical knowledge that few readers have today.

My series therefore aims to draw together advice on style from a range of related topics–what order you put words on the page, the sound those words make, how caring about style makes you a better thinker, and how style and point of view are connected–and to present it all simply enough that anyone who likes words can understand and immediately use.

The posts:

Introduction to the Series

1. Put the key word last.

2. Noun style, verb style.

3. Parataxis, or how to write like Hemingway.

4. Hypotaxis, or how to argue and explain.

5. Clauses and kernel sentences.

6. Phrases, and branching sentences.

7. Christensen’s cumulative sentence. (this essay draws on the info in the previous two–it’s a good one.)

8. Stress and flow.

9. Iambs and beats.

10. Sounds in Lonely Places.

11. Series conclusion and demonstration of the techniques at work.

You might also be interested in these essays I wrote for the Fiction Writers Review, which also cover prose style:

Stanley Fish, “How to Write a Sentence”

“The Confusing Pleasures of Reading Saul Bellow.”

If you would like to say hello, here is a handy box. I’m happy to discuss any of this further.

Modern fiction, it's often said, is merely competent. Here's to some "incompetent" fiction.

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