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Essentials of Style at the Muse and the Marketplace 2019
April 5 @ 2:15 am - 3:15 pm
I’m thrilled as ever to be teaching a class at the Muse and the Marketplace 2019 on “Essentials of Style.” Here’s an overview of what we’ll do that hour:
Gustave Flaubert suggested that “…there is no such thing as subject—style in itself being an absolute manner of seeing things.”
Okay, Flaubert might have gone a bit overboard, but there’s an unmistakable provocation in his words that is helpful–perhaps inevitable–for writers to contend with. But what is style, exactly? And if we accept that style goes deeper than ornamentation and profoundly shapes the way we read, how do we apply that insight to our own work? How do we talk about and tease apart something that seems so utterly intrinsic to a work? To what extent can a technical understanding take us closer to prose’s pulse, its lifeblood, its dynamic qualities? All of these are questions that we’ll explore in this session through a host of models that range from classic to contemporary, minimalist to maximalist, from long, winding sentences to taut, staccato ones, from contemplative to colloquial. We’ll try out a handful of style exercises and then stand back to consider the ways that meaning is transformed and distilled by each arrangement.