While meaning is the essence of a message, sound, whether real or imagined, is how a message presents itself. And like it or not, people are superficial: beautiful words often seem truer than ugly ones. Your message will be judged as an aesthetic object. That doesn't just mean you should have a well-tuned instrument; it also means you should play a good tune. If you strive for poetry in your messages, here are some questions to ask about its sound: Does it have rhythm? Do the sounds make a pleasing pattern? Do they fit the meaning?Johnson's insistence that peoples' "superficial" natures necessitate beautiful prose seems a little off to me. After all, none of us choose foods solely for their nutritional value or mates strictly for their competencies. Enjoyment is an integral part of life, and a finely tuned phrase can certainly delight. Johnson ends up on more solid footing when arguing that our works "will be judged" on their beauty. Genre writers ought to particularly take note, because our chosen field rarely earns kudos for presentation. Inventiveness? Of course. Intellectualism? Why, yes. Escapism? Most certainly. But few praise SF, Fantasy and their friends for stylistic excellence. That's something we ought to change.
(Picture: CC 2010 by montuno)