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That’s not my style…. A Quick Guide to “Stylish” Writing. First of all, what exactly is style?. Style in literature is the way an author deliberately makes choices about: Word choice Sentence structure Figurative language (i.e., similes, metaphors, imagery) Sentence arrangement

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that s not my style

That’s not my style…

A Quick Guide to “Stylish” Writing

first of all what exactly is style
First of all, what exactly is style?
  • Style in literature is the way an author deliberately makes choices about:
    • Word choice
    • Sentence structure
    • Figurative language (i.e., similes, metaphors, imagery)
    • Sentence arrangement
    • Juxtaposition (contrast)
so what
So What?
  • Style is how the author describes events, objects, and ideas
  • These elements works together to establish mood, tone, and meaning in the text.
  • An author’s specific style influences how we interpret the facts presented. Wording can tell us about emotionsin the scene, the setting, and characters.
i still don t get it
I still don’t get it

Think about fashion styles. Clothes can be formal and dressy, informal and casual, preppy, athletic, and so forth. Literary style is the clothing a text/idea wears. Just as we can dress one person in several fashions, we can dress a single message in different literary styles.

slide5

Take this first example from ZoraNealson Hurston’s best seller, Their Eyes Were Watching God:

Look how the expression changes depending on what type of style the author is using.

original
Original
  • “No sich uh thing!” Tea Cake retorted.
informal
Informal

“Nothing like that ever happened,” Tea Cake replied.

formal
Formal
  • “With great fortune, that happenstance did not become a reality,” Tea Cake stated.
journalistic hemingway style
Journalistic (Hemingway style)
  • “It did not happen,” Tea Cake said.
archaic hawthorne style
Archaic (Hawthorne style)
  • “Verily, it was a circumstance, to be noted, that appeared not to so much have been a reality as to have evolved as a thing that had not yet come to be,” Tea Cake impelled.
consider the following sentences
Consider the following sentences…
  • He’s passed away.
  • He’s sleeping with the fishes.
  • He died.
  • He’s gone to meet his Maker.
  • He kicked the bucket.
  • The version of that sentence the author chooses tells us a lot about the situation, the speaker, and the person being spoken to (audience)
slide12

He’s passed away. (formal-neutral/respectful/sensitive connotation)

  • He’s sleeping with the fishes. (figure of speech/allusion to gangster slang—negative connotation)
  • He died. (journalistic---states the facts—nothing else to read into)
  • He’s gone to meet his Maker. (religious overtone. Maker referring to a deity. Positive connotation)
  • He kicked the bucket. (informal—figure of speech—not very respectful/negative connotation. Lack of emotion)
slide13

Here are some examples from the memoir:

  • She was a certified dyed-in-the-wool New York City transit passenger who could tell you what subway train went anywhere, which stop to get off at, and how far it was to the next one if you missed your stop and had to walk back (160).
  • What do you notice about diction, sentence structure and arrangement, concrete details or literary devices, repetition, parallel structure, level of sophistication?
slide14

She was a certified dyed-in-the-wool New York City transit passenger who could tell you what subway train went anywhere, which stop to get off at, and how far it was to the next one if you missed your stop and had to walk back (160).

  • Diction: dyed-in-the-wool (dyed-in-the-wool (ddn--wl) adj.1. Thoroughgoing; out-and-out: a dyed-in-the-wool populist.) idiom, New York City (concrete detail/ proper noun)
  • Sentence structure: complex sentence with adjective and adverb clauses
  • Sophistication: very descriptive using literary devices.
slide15

“My anger at the world had been replaced by burning ambition. I didn’t want to be like them, standing around sipping wine and showing proper manner and acting happy when they weren’t—I’m similar to my mother in that way—but these people had done nothing to me” (185).

slide16

“My anger at the world had been replaced by burning ambition. I didn’t want to be like them, standing around sipping wine and showing proper manner and acting happy when they weren’t—I’m similar to my mother in that way—but these people had done nothing to me” (185).

  • Diction: anger: shows he is really upset with world. Burning ambition: burning shows overwhelming ambition. It is concrete. You can see this. Sipping wine shows imagine of “sophistication”. Proper: trying to show manners in this situation. Acting happy: acting shows action is not genuine. Nothing: shows conflict over feeling and actions: Overall these words anger, burning, sipping, acting have a negative tone and create a negative mood for the reader.
slide17

“My anger at the world had been replaced by burningambition. I didn’t want to be like them, standing around sipping wine and showing proper manner and acting happy when they weren’t—I’m similar to my mother in that way—but these people had done nothing to me” (185).

  • LOOK AT WHAT CHANGING DICTION DOES:
  • My disgust at the universe changed to luke-warm ambition. I didn’t want to be like them lounging around throwing back wine and showing immature manner and faking happiness when they weren’t
slide18

—I’m similar to my mother in that way—but these people had done nothing to me.

  • Sentence structure and arrangement: One simple sentence + complex sentence. Last part of sentence is separated by dashes to highlight/emphasize connection to mother and similar feelings. Now stylistically McBride is showing you commonalities in both of their past and identities.
slide19

“It had hurt me a little bit to stand there and lie. Sometimes it seamed like the truthwas a bandy-legged soul who dashed from one side of the world to the other and I could never find him” (187).

  • Diction: hurt, little bit, lie, truth, bandy-legged soul
  • Literary Devices: metaphor: truth was a bandy-legged soul who dashed from one side of the world to the other and I could never find him. Metaphor compares two things and creates strong concrete detail. Shows the idea that he can’t hold on to the truth by show don’t tell.
ruth s style
Ruth’s Style
  • It wasn’t a good situation. I wasn’t a child anymore. My mother’s sisters were done with me” (169).
  •  “I fumbled around, fumbled around, and finally I said to myself, “Well, I can manicure good” (173).
ruth s style1
Ruth’s style
  • It wasn’t a good situation. I wasn’t a child anymore. My mother’s sisters were done with me” (169).
  • Wasn’t= repetition verb to add emphasis. Uses contractions, Parallel structure. Short, simple sentences. No figurative language. Simple adjective use.
  • “I fumbled around, fumbled around, and finally I said to myself, “Well, I can manicure good” (173).
  • Fumbled around (2xs) repetition for emphasis. Sentence is grammatically incorrect. Also “manicure good” is nonstandard English as well. Shows lack of education or writes how she speaks.
ruth s style2
Ruth’s Style
  • “I told her anything, you know, and after a while it got so that I couldn’t see my grandmother anymore and keep doing what I was doing, hanging out in Harlem. I had to break away and not go back home to her, because Bubeh reminded me too much of what I was and where I came from” (175).
  • “I knew what I was saying I wasn’t blind. But what was love to me? What did I know about love?” (175).
ruth s style3
Ruth’s style
  • How does Ruth say things?
  • What does it reveal about her character?
ruth s style formative assessment
Ruth’s style formative assessment
  • “Oh, that messed me up […] I went through the entire ordeal [abortion] while he was getting busy with somebody else.”
  • Diction: slang “messed me up”=really hurt me and “getting busy”=having a physical relationship---more street talk or slang. Says “ordeal” rather than abortion—this choice provides distance to what really happened to her. Some people don’t even say the word because it has such a heavy connotation.
  • Sentence structure is simple
  • Informal and conversational “Oh,….”
  • Explicit---straight to the point. Nothing to read into
  • No figurative language. No imagery