The model scene for classic style is: one person speaking to another, a conversation between equals.The writer uses prose as a window to describe (a / the) world. He has noticed something the reader has not yet noticed, and, as the readers equal, orients the readers gaze so that he can see it for himself.
The writer has worked hard to find something with showing and the perfect vantage point from which to see it, and he seeks to draw attention to the objects and actions going on within this world. header2
Classic Style assumes that…
The reader is smart & cooperative; they will read between the lines, get your joke, catch your drift, and connect the dots. Header 3
The writer takes the pose of possessing full knowledge. This pose assumes that the writer has wide and textured experiences, otherwise he would not be able to make such an observation.
- Writing proceeds from thinking
- Writer takes the pose of possessing full knowledge.
- The writer of classic prose needs to simulate two experiences; showing the reader something in the world, and engaging her in conversation.
- The purpose of writing is presentation and its motive is disinterested truth. It succeeds when it aligns language with the truth
Writer’s must work through intellectual issues, not merely acquire mechanical techniques
- The key to good style, far more than obeying any list of commandments, is to have a clear conception of the make-believe world in which you’re pretending to communicate.
- A style is defined by it’s conceptual stand on truth, presentation, writer, reader, thought, language and their relation
- The confidence the writer has about what they’re saying is all the proof that the reader needs.
- Position the reader to see what he (the writer) has learned to see, and if the writer does what he’s supposed to, the reader will be competent to recognize it.
- Writing is performance
The scene of a conversation in which one speaks to another, unmotivated by gain or interest.
“Madame de chevreuse had sparkling intelligence, ambition and beauty in plenty; she was flirtatious, lively bold, and enterprising; she used all her charms to push her projects to success, and she almost always brought disaster to those she encountered along her way.
This passage displays truth according to an order that has nothing to do with the process by which the writer came to know it.The writer takes the pose of full knowledge. This pose implies that the writers has wide and textured experience; otherwise he would not be able to make such an observation. But none of that personal history, experience, personal psychology enters into the expression. Instead the sentence crystalizes the writer’s experience into a timeless and absolute sequence, as if it were a geometric proof. The sentence has a clear direction and a goal. It leads us to that goal, which coincides with it’s final phrase; it is constructed to telegraph it’s direction.
- In meandering prose, we don’t know where the words are taking us, or where we’re being led to. In the above Classic Style, the beginning of the sentence exists for the end, and is constructed so that we anticipate that it will come to such a conclusion.
- The classic sentence, once written, seems to have been inevitable. It looks as if it could be written no other way.
- Addressing an intelligent but non-specialist reader.
- Early Classic Style writers were writers who had no doubt about the general importance of what they had to say.
- They shared the idea that a truth about one thing is, in some sense, truth about everything, and they adopted the view that it is always possible to present a really significant conclusion to a general audience.
- Classic style is focused and assured. It’s virtues are clarity and simplicity; in a sense, so are it’s vices. It declines to acknowledge ambiguities, unessential qualifications, doubts, or the styles. It declines to acknowledge that it is a style. It makes hard choices silently and out of the reader’s sight.
- Once made those hard choices are not acknowledged to be choices at all; they are presented as if they were inevitable because classic style is, above all, a style of presentation with claims to transparency.
- What writing can do
- What its limits are
- Who its audience is
- What the writers goals are
- In the absence of settled decisions about these things, writing can be torture.
- Classic style rests on the assumption that it is possible to think disinterestedly, to know the results of disinterested thought, and to present them without fundamental distortion.
- The assumptions may be wrong, but they help define a style whose usefulness is manifest.
- Classic prose is pure, fearless, cool and relentless. It asks no quarter and gives no quarter to anyone, including the writer. The human condition in general doesn’t allow us to have this kind of autonomy and certainty that the classic writer pretends to have.
- Classic style is aristocratic, not egalitarian; truth is available to all who are willing to work to achieve it, but truth is certainly not commonly possessed by all and is no ones birthright.