Posted in Literature, Writing

The Meat of a Sentence, The Taste of Writing Styles

Context: This brief article covers my opinion on the need for unique writing styles and how too many writers today lack that unique and memorable voice.

I have noticed that today when it comes to fiction and movie scripts most people when writing for the masses write nearly the exact same way: as simply as possible. Sentences in fiction have become shorter and easier to read. Eleven year olds are able to easily comprehend a book for adults. The way that books and movies are now being written is to make it as easy to read as possible for the sake of massive public consumption.

I, as both a writer and a reader of various books with an interest in film, abhor this trend involving the dumbing down of writing style and language for younger readers and viewers all for the sake of public spectacle. You can tell this because I didn’t simply write: I don’t agree.

I like it when writers let their own unique writing style and personality shine through. I enjoy the quirks and signature moves that show up in a writer’s work.

In film, a lot of film buffs can spot when a film is using Hitchcockian Lighting, since there is a heavy use of shadows in a shot, evoking Film Noir (a film genre that is also easily identified by its use of light, or lack thereof, in a scene). These signature styles should be available in how books are written too.

We remember Mark Twain for his colorful characters and use of southern dialects when writing dialogue. Fans of detective novels and pulp fiction can tell when someone is trying to sound Chandleresque, a reference to the sentence structures writer Raymond Chandler was fond of using in his hard boiled detective novels, particularly those featuring his most famous character Philip Marlowe. A writer like Vladimir Nabokov is celebrated for writing such splendid sentences that can be cleverly unwound like a puzzle, while sounding lyrical at the same time. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing has a pulse no other writer can mimic, the Beat Generation also has a style and pattern to its writing that separates it from other works of literature.

Yet today a writer’s personal style has been ignored in favor of easy to read books that can be flipped through on the beach or on the subway, books have turned in to a blockbuster industry, particularly books for children and young adults, and have turned away from the thought provoking nature of past literature so that younger readers can read these books at ease without any spot of trouble.

Perhaps I am alone in this, but I feel like we are missing something in books today. The old masters of language have been replaced by poorly written bestsellers. Dialogue in film has turned from the skillful style of David Mamet and in to explosions, screaming, and short, choppy sentences that can be easily translated in to other languages so other countries abroad won’t have to read too many subtitles.

I believe we become better readers when we challenge ourselves by reading fiction that does not simply tell a story at face value, but uses the prose as an art form, juggling entertainment with wit, intellect, allegories, political resonances, and style at the same time. When you write, write with style, because the flavorful taste of one lyrical sentence on the tongue is more satisfying than that of a speedy, sloppily made fast food meal-like book.


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