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Chapter 19. What Is Style, and How Do I ... > I'll Have What's on His Plate - Pg. 197

What Is Style, and How Do I Get Some? 197 4. They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there. 5. They require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human being would be like to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say. ... 9. They require that the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture forth a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable. ... In addition to these large rules, there are some little ones. These require that the author shall 12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it. 13. Use the right word, not its first cousin. 14. Eschew surplus. 15. Not omit necessary details. 16. Avoid slovenliness of form. 17. Use good grammar. 18. Employ a simple and straightforward style. Danger, Will Robinson Don't forget that clear writing always uses perfect grammar and usage. Ditto for spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. I'll Have What's on His Plate The grass is always greener over the septic tank, the dress always looks better in the window, and the food always looks better on someone else's plate, eh? I can't do anything about your lawn, loins, or lunch, but I can help you develop a better writing style. Start by analyzing different styles to figure out makes one writing style appeal to you more than another. Once you can isolate the elements that appeal to you--word choice, sentence length and variety, structure, and so on--you can start adapting these element of style to your own prose. Read the following famous passages and analyze their style. Decide how the writer uses consis- tency, coherence, clarity to convey meaning. Then decide which passages you like the best and why. 1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of the noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. There was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face on the throne of England; there was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.