- The formation of a good style; canons of style.
Style means manner; and an author’s literary style is his. particular way of writing. Styles of writing may be forceful or feeble, lucid or obscure, rugged or smooth, plain or ornate, terse or diffuse, light or heavy, interesting or dull. But everyone who writes should desire to write well-to form a good style.
The young writer, especially, should keep in mind these canons or rules of style. First, style should be personal; that is, it should be the writer’s own way of expressing his thoughts in words. As a wise Frenchman said, “The style is the man himself”.
Next, clearness (or lucidity, or perspicuity). One’s style in writing must express one’s meaning with crystal clearness. This is the cardinal canon of style, and it cannot be emphasized too much. For the whole object of writing may be analyzed. Simplicity, precision and directness are its component parts by simplicity is meant the use of simple, words and simple sentence construction. The precision, the accurate use of words in their exact meanings. By directness, going straight to the point; that is, saying just what one means in the shortest way possible. This is the opposite of circumlocution, or rambling round the point.
The third canon of style is appropriateness. A speaker will not talk to children as he would to adults; he will not treat a serious subject flippantly, nor a light subject with ponderous gravity; he will not make jokes in a funeral oration, nor preach solemnly at a wedding feast. In the same way a writer should suit his style to his readers, of his subjects, and to the occasion. So one’s manner of writing should always be appropriate.
The fourth canon is persuasiveness. When you want to get a man to do you a service, or to convince him of some important piece of information, you use all the arts of persuasion at your, command. You appeal feelingly, you argue earnestly, you try to impress him by your words, your voice and your manner with the importance of what you tell him. As in speaking so in writing. If you wish people to read what you write, you must write in a forceful, attractive and interesting way. You must write persuasively.