Telling True Stories: Part VII:

Source: bu.edu,  By: Vernon Doucette

Source: bu.edu,
By: Vernon Doucette

Emily Heistand: On Style:
  1. Embody ideas in the nature of language: Language is not a conveyor belt trundling a cargo of something else called “the idea” but is itself integral to the idea. Poets— those pure research scientists in the laboratory of language— might say that language is entirely the idea. But even in prose, whatever else our words mean to convey, the nature of the language is itself a mighty signal.
  2. Restore worn-out words: The most current meanings of words only skim the surface; as any time with the Oxford English Dictionary reveals, each word is a house of history.
  3. Take an art class: Much of what artists learn in school is how to see: how to look at the world free of the abstracting preconceptions and the myriad simplifications that we form in order to navigate life.
  4.  

  5. Use concrete detail: The mind develops in response to sensory experience and because our intelligence is so multifaceted.
  6. Compose the pace: The pace can be in alignment with the subject— moving glacially for the slowed-down time of grief— or can counter the subject.
  7. Experiment with form: Perhaps narrative is at once daring and humble in the way that science is— offering provisional truths, saying in essence: This is the best story we can tell now, based on limited knowledge.
  8. Cultivate your own style: “You don’t just go out and pick a style off a tree one day. “The tree is already inside you. It is growing naturally inside you.” – Dexter Gordon.
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