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Swift have been named as writers who employ a plain style.
A Neat Style employs ornament, but not that of the most striking kind. The figures introduced are appropriate rather than bold. Beauty of composition is here attained more by judiciously selected and properly arranged words than by any strong efforts of the imagination. The sentences are carefully pruned of any superfluities, and are of moderate length. This style is appropriate to nearly all kinds of writing.
An Elegant Style employs all the beauty that ornament can add, without using it to excess. It is regarded as the perfection of style. Blair says: “An elegant writer is one who pleases the fancy and the ear, while he informs the understanding, and who gives us his ideas clothed with all the beauty of expression, but not overcharged with any misplaced finery." Addison's is an excellent example of the elegant style. So also, but in a less degree, is that of Pope.
A Florid Style is one that employs figures without stint. This style has been employed successfully by but few writers. Ossian is one of the most noted. Usually it is employed by those who look more to the words than to the sense, and the thought is made wholly subordinate to the high-sounding words. As such it disgusts rather than pleases. This style should be rigidly avoided by all but the most brilliant thinkers, and even they will have but little need to employ it. A writer who finds himself drifting into a florid style should carefully revise and prune, striking out all unnecessary words, and even clauses, where they add nothing to the sense.
A Simple and a Labored Style differ chiefly in the ease of expression, as also in the ease with which the composition is read.
One who employs a simple style expresses himself with so much ease that the reader catches the meaning with but little effort. Ornament is employed where needed. A simple style bears no marks of art; it seems to the reader as if it were the only proper way in which to express the thought. Oliver Goldsmith and Washington Irving, among the writers of English, are the most noted authors that employ a simple style, and chiefly because they both wrote from nature.
A labored style is the reverse of the simple. Its chief faults are misplaced figures, involved sentences, and a lack of both naturalness and gracefulness.
A Concise and a Diffuse Style differ chiefly as to the number of words employed.
The concise writer expresses himself in the briefest manner possible, rejecting everything that is not really necessary to the sense. The thought is presented but once, and then impressively. The sentences are shorn of all unnecessary words, and really suggest more than they express.
The diffuse writer, on the other hand, expresses his thoughts in a variety of ways, and repeats and amplifies and explains until he makes himself understood. · Both styles may be used with good effect. The concise is appropriate, if not carried to excess, in scientific statements and treatises, where the reader has an opportunity to take the thought in at his leisure. The diffuse is more appropriate to addresses and other productions intended for vocal delivery, as the minds of the hearers may not catch the full thought at first statement. In gen
eral, discourses for delivery, therefore, require a more diffuse style than those intended for publication, where they may be read at leisure.
A Nervous and a Feeble Style differ in the impression they make on the reader or hearer. A nervous style makes a strong impression on the mind of the hearer or reader, while that made by a feeble style is but slight.
All the styles here discussed may be used, each under appropriate circumstances, excepting the dry, the labored, and the feeble, all of which should be avoided.
SUGGESTIONS ON FORMING STYLE. The following suggestions on forming style are important:
1. Write only on subjects with which you are acquainted.
You can make no greater mistake than to attempt to express thoughts which you do not have.
2. Give earnest thought to the subject about which you propose to write.
But few experienced writers are able to take a pen and compose, even on a familiar topic, without first systematizing their thoughts; of course inexperienced writers can do still less.
3. Compose frequently.
Ease of expression and gracefulness of style come only from continued practice.
4. Revise carefully.
Usually the best-prepared composition may be improved by careful revision. Sentences may need reconstruction, some may need striking out, and, in general, a written production will be much improved by one or more careful revisions.
5. Study the style of the best authors.
It is important that a young writer read the best of literature; that is, that which has the best and most attractive style. One can improve himself much by reading a chapter from some writer of excellent style, and then reproducing it in his own words. It is said of Franklin that he would read a page or two from an author whose style pleased him, and then try to reproduce it as nearly as possible in the author's own style and language. But no servile imitation is recommended. Indeed, there is little danger that one will become a mere imitator if he read a number of authors. Such danger is imminent only where a single style is studied. 6. Avoid all mannerisms.
Every writer's productions will be marked by his own individuality, but we should be cautious that our style he so flexible that we may be able to adapt it to any class of literature in which we may wish to engage, whether it be poetry or prose. The style of some authors is so characteristic as to have received a distinctive name; as, Addisonian, Johnsonese, etc.
COMPOSITION is the art of inventing ideas and expressing them by means of language.
INVENTION. Invention, as used in Rhetoric, is that which treats of finding thought to be expressed in words.
Strictly speaking, Invention does not belong to Rhetoric as an art. It is not the province of Rhetoric to find what to say, but to tell how to say it most effectively. As has been said by Dr. Hill, “ If it were otherwise, Rhetoric would be a universal science,” laying down rules for the members of every profession. A few condensed suggestions on the topic may, however, be of value.
The processes in Invention are three:
1. The Choice of a Subject ;
: 1. The Choice of a Subject. The first step in composition is the selection of a sub. ject, and it is often a difficult step. But it is impossible