Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jacobsen on the Importance of Excellent Writing

Roy Jacobsen of Writing, Clear and Simple (a nominee for's Best Grammar Blog of 2011 award) argues that elegant style is essential to one's writing. Excerpt:
We love the truism "You can't judge a book by its cover." We all want the world to appreciate our "inner value" without taking external appearances into consideration.

But human nature does not work that way. As Stacy London and Clinton Kelly (of the show What Not To Wear) adamantly insist, appearances matter. In the case of your wardrobe, it matters for two reasons: people make judgments about you based on your appearance, and your appearance has a huge impact on how you judge yourself.

And what is true about your wardrobe is also true about your writing: readers will make judgments about you and your ideas based on the quality of your writing.
Read the whole thing. Regular visitors to ISLF know that I'm a fan of the early cyberpunk movement, but I've never let slip what made me come to love it. It wasn't the genre's dsytopic conception of the near future or its appropriation of noir tropes, although I appreciated both elements. No, what hooked me was the strength of the prose in William Gibson's Neuromancer, particularly a passage wherein the protagonist glances out a window to see a femme fatale's "eyes reflected in a cage of red neon." Now, I was young when I first read the novel and didn't understand geopolitics, existential angst, computer programming or much of anything related to Japan. In other words, all the defining elements of cyberpunk. But I understood that image, intuitively felt its beauty in my bones, and it carried me through the entirety of the book.

(Picture: CC 2007 by Andrew Huff)

No comments: