Monday, May 08, 2006

Style Summary 9

Lesson 9: Elegance

Lesson nine calls for balanced coordination, a convergence of the sounds of words and the intentions of the writer. Visually, an aesthetic balance is helpful: one can balance one part of a sentence with another by coordinating them with "and/but/or/nor or yet" Much like children on a see-saw with the coordinating conjunctions as the fulcrum. A very distinctive phrase from Williams "How you begin a sentence determines its clarity; how you end it determines its rhythm and grace." This phrase meant to describe climactic emphasis, perhaps, summarizes the chapter as a whole quite well.

A major point is the use of elegant stress--ways to end a sentece with special emphasis. One is "of"+ nominalization, in which one uses what may be thought of as an older turn of phrase. An example of this would be something to the effect of "They told the tales of old." The next device would be that of Echoing Salience--a rhetorical strategy in which one echoes the sound of a phrase used in the beginning of a sentence at the end. The last is that of Chiasmus, in which the structure of the end of the sentence mirrors the first. Extravagant elements of the sentence can be introduced, but one should keep in mind the previous lessons in the book. The length of a sentence can be modified to great effect. A short sentence amid ones of longer length lends itself to greater emphasis, where as a longer sentence among shorter sentences can grant itself a sense of pomp and importance.

Metaphor is an excellent device, and one that allows the reader to show off his or her imagination, a medium through which a writer can express his or herself in even the driest of journal articles, and the metaphor used can shape the reader's understanding of a concept. If the metaphor is logically accurate, but invokes a stronger emotional response than that for which it is being used, the writer may want to choose another.

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