My Style

When I was in high school, there was one writing assignment we received that I was not sure how to do. After trying for a long time to figure it out, I finally went to ask my teacher for help. The things that she told me have stood out since that day: trust myself and follow my voice. My frustrations with the assignment had led me to question what I was saying and made me feel like I was doing it wrong, when in reality I had been doing it correctly, and well. I did not trust my instincts or my writing, and she told me to have more faith in my abilities. Even though I do not always apply that advice now with the stresses of the semester, it significantly helped me to feel more confident in myself. She also stated that I had a good and strong voice. My response to that was that I was not sure what that meant. My teacher merely stated it was something only I could discover. Though it took me a while to fully understand what my voice was, I have seen it grow and develop as I have progressed through the English major at BYU.

For me, my style is a direct result of the advice my teacher gave me, and has improved as my voice has grown and developed over time through the classes I have taken and the things that I have learned. This class has helped me to notice what types of writing and grammar that I regularly use as I work on assignments. I like long sentences that sometimes contain too many ideas for the sentence. But I also really like to have short sentences that pack a punch within them. I have found that I have a hard time with transitions between paragraphs, but that I have improved over time as I focus more on them. Overall, this has led to a more formal style, and I find it hard to be informal in my writing as a result.

In my style, I use a variety of punctuation. I know I have issues with commas, but I still struggle with them immensely and I feel like there is no hope for improvement, except to have multiple people look over my work. I like using colons and semicolons, and am becoming adept at using them and dashes more effectively in my writing. What has become most important to me in my writing is not losing my identity, whether through grammar, punctuation, or structure. Many of my professors have certain styles of writing they prefer, so I have catered to that in my writing. However, when I have focused on my writing, and worked to improve the areas I struggle in, I have found that it is my writing that counts, and the suggestions I receive have become less about the style and voice professors prefer, and more about formatting or little grammar things. I have become stronger as a writer as I have progressed at school, and it is so neat to look back at my writing and see how I have improved.

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Stylistic Toolbox

Throughout the semester, there have been several concepts that we have discussed that will help me for the future:

Dashes: Dashes help to change the pace of reading, and can allow for pauses. They draw your attention away, and can help make interesting connections. Learning about the two types of dashes, N and M dashes, shown this way to demonstrate their size within the text, helped me learn how to better communicate them in my writing. I had not understood the difference before this point, and so this can help me as I continue on to receive my graduate degree.

Clarity: Discussing clarity in class was helpful for me, especially as I have progressed throughout my English degree and have improved my writing. I can see where I switched from simply writing to make it sound well-written, to truly caring how it sounds, and getting my point across in a clear, concise manner. I have learned, through reading Microstyle, how to vary my writing so that clarity becomes dominant, and it has helped remind me to keep things simple and understandable for all audiences.

Sentences: We talked about a wide range of sentence structures, and how varying sentence length can help get points across. I love creating complex sentences, but I also love inserting short sentences that pack a punch in them. As I have written with more sentence length variety, I have seen my writing improve. I think back to some of the books I read growing up with their varied sentence lengths, and how powerful the shorter sentences could be. Sometimes, you need the variety, and as a librarian, I will need to be able to communicate with children and young adults who are not as familiar with some sentence types, and who understand the shorter ones better.

Subordinating and Additive Style: These sentence types demonstrate how authors like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf wrote. I read Mrs. Dalloway for class last semester, and I loved it. I do not think I would have understood it in the same way before that semester, but I have come to love and appreciate so many types of writing throughout studying English here. I love stream of conscious narration, and it made so much sense to me when reading this novel. These style types, particularly the additive, can help me to convey how people really think in an interesting manner. I can also help portray pictures that then grow the longer the text goes. It really is a style of its own.

Being Aware of Audience: This chapter made me think about all the papers that I have written, particularly throughout my college years. Sometimes, my professors would be unclear as to the audience we should write to, but more often than not, we were told to write as if those reading our papers would have read the same things we did. It is important to be aware of the audience, and strive to find that sweet middle spot so we are not insulting or too far over their heads with our writing. To do this, we simply need to add explanations and examples so all may understand.

Verbs that bring a “Fresh Light”

For me, to “liven up my writing” means that I will use a different verb to describe an action or explanation, so it is not always the same. The verbs in this list are not necessarily overly elaborate, but they enable for more word choice to occur, which is sometimes all you need to change up how you write!

Amuses

Buries

Claims

Clarifies

Confides

Doubts

Elaborates

Emphasizes

Exalts

Feels

Forces

Hints

Hypothesizes

Illustrates

Implies

Maintains

Notes

Observes

Promotes

Proposes

Recognizes

Records

Swoops

Microstyle Review

Christopher Johnson has a masterpiece in his hands with Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little. Its timely information on appropriately crafting short messages speaks to readers and writers of all ages. His writing is real, and hits at what people might think and experience in their writing process. It is a time when social media, texting, and advertisements are found everywhere, where people quickly scroll through their news feeds on social media, only pausing to see what message can catch their eye during that time. Johnson’s book teaches how to effectively write these messages, through clarity, painting pictures, patterns, and metaphors. This book is clear, accessible, and easy to read. By having relatively short chapters, Johnson covers a wide variety of topics by exemplifying his art of writing little. This book is a must-read for all those who are interesting in learning about how to effectively communicate by writing little.

Otto Malpense, Mastermind

G.L.O.V.E. (Global League of Villainous Enterprises) Report:

OTTO MALPENSE, AGED 67, HAS DIED

Otto Malpense: Friend. Leader. Mastermind. Villain. At the age of thirteen, Malpense left his home—the orphanage he grew up in—to train with the best of the worst the world had to offer. He was brought to H.I.V.E., the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, and admitted to the Alpha stream. From the beginning, his headmaster Dr. Maximillian Nero marked him for special attention among his year’s Alpha intake. What Dr. Nero saw, as did his peers, teachers, and then the world, was a boy filled with raw potential—potential that became fully cultivated through his classes and years at H.I.V.E. Though Otto’s true importance and admittance to H.I.V.E. was unclear to him at the beginning, as the events in his life unfolded, he grew to understand and surpass his potential.

Otto’s school years were adventurous, to say the least. Upon entering H.I.V.E., he became close friends with Wing Fanchu, Shelby Trinity, and Laura Brand. Together, they planned an escape from their new home, unhappy that they had been brought against their will. However, their plan was foiled by Raven, a member of G.L.O.V.E. associated with Dr. Nero, and Dr. Nero. Though unsuccessful in their attempt, Otto and Wing did manage to save their school from a tyrannical plant, bred by Nigel Darkdoom (for more information on his father, his father’s escapades, and their effect on Nigel, see page 27.6). While the immediate after effects of the destruction would have enabled them to leave the school, they remained, a fact which is still a mystery to many.

Many would remember the following years as the ones when Number One’s (Overlord) true identity was revealed, and as the ones that led to drastic changes in G.L.O.V.E. policies. The events of Otto’s first year at H.I.V.E. were calm, though, in comparison to what awaited him afterwards. Needless to say, his friend was abducted by Cypher, who then tried to take over H.I.V.E. along with the Contessa. Dr. Nero went missing, and Diabolus Darkdoom was found to be alive. The culmination of these events was our discovery of Number One’s true identity, though the details were hushed and fuzzy for quite some time. At this time, Otto learned that he was an experiment, and clone, designed to be the perfect body for Overlord, a sadistic computer program that tried to destroy the world. (To review G.L.O.V.E.’s goals and policies about taking over the world, please see page 3.) His attempts failed, and we were left with Otto: brilliant, resourceful, and with a computer for a brain.

At one point, the other side, H.O.P.E., did kidnap and control Otto using Animus, a black liquid meant to prevent powers from being used, and to program technology, or in Otto’s case, people. After being missing for months following saving the U.S. President and being forced to participate in horrific acts of evil, he was rescued by his friends and professors from school, and Overlord was finally defeated. The next few years saw similar actions of a sinister nature, the worst when almost an entire Alpha stream was killed or taken from their arctic field trip. In an attempt to rescue her family, Laura sold her group out, and Otto took partial blame for the events of finding and giving out the location of the trip. To not be expelled, Otto worked with Raven to track down his missing friends and classmates, and to take out as many of those opposing Dr. Nero and the version of G.L.O.V.E in effect at that time. In this he was successful, and it is assumed that he graduated from H.I.V.E. with flying colors.

Though many of his actions following his schooling are classified, Otto rose to high ranks within G.L.O.V.E., with each new scheme performed with even greater skill and finesse. Otto knew how to be the worst he could be, and knew where to draw the line between taking over the world and destroying the world, for what would there be to rule over if there was not a world to rule? Otto’s service at H.I.V.E. and G.L.O.V.E. were exemplary, and we are forever glad that Dr. Nero saw potential in him, and that he did not become a psychopathic egomaniac like Overlord wanted him to be. Rest in peace, Otto Malpense, unless you just faked your death like Darkdoom. If that is the case, you have a stack of papers in your office to sign, a school to run, and a world to control.

Attempts to Imitate James and Woolf

Here is my attempt at imitating the subordinating and additive styles for sentences.

Henry James Imitation: With the rush and the hurry of the end of the semester assignments, with the subsequent amounts of stress, the utmost concern for his grades – that he usually held – left his mind, for there was no way for him to survive this horrific test, and the textbook slipped and thudded to the ground.

Virginia Woolf Imitation: Did what she do matter, if only everyone around her was continually hurt, injured in this walk of life, without any hope of recovery; or did it only matter if the changes in life, their ebbs and flows ceased to exist like that house there that crumbles and falls, falls to pieces like the cookies that crumbled in her pocket at breakfast as she hid it from her child, who only desired sweets that would eventually cause her to call on the doctor and bring the further light and eyes of death into the world?

The Catching Darkness: Opening Sentences

Memoir: My life changed drastically as soon as I set foot on the ground of England, happily anticipating the next few months of my life.

Paper for a humanities class: Many critics have associated the birds in Jane Eyre as specks of freedom flying through the protagonist’s life.

Talk at church: Today I have been asked to speak on grace and the enabling power of the Atonement.

Bestselling fiction novel: As she ran up the cobbled streets, the only thing on her mind was to get away, from the darkness, the blackness, the all-encompassing horrors that lurked behind her.

Science paper: Recent discoveries in the field of aerodynamics have shown that not only are people likely to fly soon, they are also five times more likely to fly before pigs do.

She ran, hurriedly and quickly, up and up and up the uneven cobbled streets, fearing for her safety as much as for her life from what lay behind her: she must try to escape the suffocation, the blackness, the inability to see a hope for the future, the stress, the struggles, the all-encompassing horrors that threatened to engulf her within their lurking compasses; for there could be no hope, no escape from what lay behind her: within seconds she was caught again in its snares.

Beauty and the Beast DVD

Original Sentence:

I splurged, meaning I used my Target gift card from Christmas and paid the difference, and bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast!

 

Variations:

I bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast with my Christmas gift card!

 

I have wanted my own copy of Beauty and the Beast for a while, so I finally used my Christmas money to buy one!

 

I had a gift card to Target, so I bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast.

 

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite movies, and now I own a copy thanks to my splurge!

 

As a result of my desire to watch this movie again, I purchased a version of it from Target with my gift card.

 

Beauty and the Beast is an excellent movie, and now that I have my own copy, I can watch it over and over again!

 

I treated myself for surviving half of my midterms, and subsequently bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast.

 

My DVD-buying splurge was small on my behalf, my Target gift card from Christmas paid for the majority of the movie (Beauty and the Beast).

 

Splurging, I bought a copy of Beauty and the Beast. Most of the cost was covered by a gift card, thankfully.

 

Happily, I now own Beauty and the Beast. The ten-dollar splurge on my behalf was an excellent decision!

The Movie Theatre as Discourse Community

One discourse community is that of a movie theatre. Movie theatres have a wide variety of jargon associated with them, and which can be picked up after working there for a just a short amount of time. In the movie theatre, much of the discourse revolves around movies and concessions, including things such as the kettle, seasoning, hot foods, door, post, and standees. Each of these is representative of another term or phrase: the kettle is where popcorn is made, and seasoning is used to help with the flavor. Hot foods is relatively recent, but alludes to the concession items separate from popcorn, drinks, and candy. It includes pizza, chicken strips, fries, and mozzarella sticks. Door is the section of theatre that covers cleaning theatres, and post is where tickets are torn. Finally, standees are the giant movie advertisements that are sent in for promotion. In some cases, they are just larger posters, in others they allow customers to stand around characters from the movies and pose for pictures. In these cases, simplicity is essential; the jargon associated with the theatre does not need to be complicated, it just needs to be able to present the necessary information.

This movie theatre jargon, while uncomplicated, does give a sense of inclusion to those who work at the theatre, but even more to those who have worked there longer, for they understand the words and phrases without much of an issue. There is a feeling of exclusion when you do not understand the specific jargon that is used by employees who have worked there for a longer period of time, or by the managers when around regular employees. Once someone has worked there for an extended amount of time though, other phrases bring in a different sense of inclusion. For example, when a shipment arrives, if you have worked there for a while, you will know that while getting more supplies is nice, it also means a couple hours of constant movement of supplies and goods in order to put the shipment away, to those who are newer, this daunting task is not as daunting, and is also less dreaded, at least the first time.

In this community discourse, the community uses the jargon in order to distinguish different aspects of the theatre from others. It keeps areas separate and distinct, which allows for new employees to more easily pick up on the jargon when starting: they do not need to know everything about the theatre right away, there is time to teach the basics. There is no need to overload them with information. As everyone starts in concessions, new employees only need learn of concession jargon until the next step is necessary. This allows for clarity. The jargon used also takes regular, everyday words and phrases and changes them into something that could fit a movie theatre, changing their connotations. But it fits within the community discourse. Without the separation between the areas of the theatre, it would be harder to pick up, but it allows for workers to have an easier flow of communication as well, without which, people would have a hard time trying to figure things out while working, and particularly during busy periods.

J.K. Rowling: Forever an Inspiration

In an interview with J.K. Rowling on Urbanette that describes her writing process and getting published, readers learn about the pathway to success for Rowling. It was not an easy or fast path to working on the Harry Potter series. While traveling from Manchester to London by train, the idea fell into her head. She was unable to write it down right away, but that enabled her idea to become more formed instead of it possibly becoming stifled by the slowness of writing. Over the next several years, moves, and relationships, Rowling slowly worked on her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Her life experiences influenced the storyline of the books; her mother’s death made the deaths of Harry’s parents feel more real to her. Rowling wrote in her spare time, in the evenings and once her daughter fell asleep while on walks. She would dash to the nearest café, and just write because it was a good and comfortable place where she could write without too many interruptions, and was not too crowded but crowded enough. The second person she contacted about being an agent for her book became her agent, and then it took a year after working with her agent for Bloomsbury to then publish the book.

Rowling’s personal story is so inspiring to me, as inspiring as her Harry Potter stories, that are my childhood. She makes several good points about writing and perseverance in her interview. I liked how she talked about the benefits of not having a pen to write down her thoughts right away because it allowed more thoughts to flow. I know I have found that when writing, if I brainstorm on paper I get nowhere. It takes me just thinking about it at random times for papers to gain more sense and clarity as I work to form them. Her mode of writing I also appreciated: write anytime and anywhere, but find a good place for you. She took any free time she had to write as much as she could. I know most times I just try to sit and block out several hours for writing, which is so ineffectual for me. I need to make better use of my little bits of free time to gather my thoughts together. She also talked about going from café to café to write, and finding cafes to be good places to write. This encourages me to find a place to write that works best for me, and an atmosphere that will be helpful, not stifling. Finally, her perseverance I think is an essential lesson for all: she did not give up, but hoped, prayed, and tried until a publisher chose to accept her manuscript for publishing. We all need to just keep going with our writing, and things can work out in the end.

Clarity Rewrite

3 Nephi 11: 6-11

6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:

7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.

8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.

 

Rewrite:

6 After the voice had spoken for the third time, the people understood it, and it said to them:

7 Here is my Beloved Son. I am proud of him and his actions towards me and my name. Listen to him.

8 As they understood, the people looked towards heaven, and saw a Man coming down. He was dressed in a white robe, and stood with the people. Everyone looked to him, yet no one spoke or knew for sure what his presence meant. They thought he might be an angel coming to them.

9 He extended his hand and said to the people:

10 I am Jesus Christ. The prophets testified I would come to the world.

11 I am the light and the life, an example for the world. I have faced sorrows and pains and sufferings by fulfilling Heavenly Father’s Plan, and as a result, have fulfilled His plan and purpose. I have taken the sins of the people so all might live again. I have been chosen since the beginning for this purpose.

 

Rewriting these verses for clarity enabled them to have a more literal translation. But to me, so much of the meaning is lost. They are not as poetic, and I feel that poetry has a unique style that enables more meaning to be gained. In the top, I feel a sense of surety and peace, and I understand the profound nature of the event. In the rewritten version, it sounds too modern, too carefree. It does not convey the same meaning or tone of importance as the original does. The original contains a sense of awe, while the rewrite seems to take all feeling out. In order to rewrite these verses, I felt that I had to add more words to get a similar tone and meaning across, even though the original has more words in it. The rewrite needed more words for clarification, and while some can be taken as a rewrite for multiple phrases from the original, the original feels clearer and more succinct.