Monday, May 17, 2010

Practical tips for writers (2) – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Here’s another list of practical tips for writers. It’s an essay by the great satirist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (pictured). The essay is titled “How to Write with Style.”* Not surprisingly, it is both practical and entertaining. A sample:

5. Sound like yourself

The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench…. [However,] I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am.

The Takeaway: Read and internalize Mr. Vonnegut’s essay, “How to Write with Style.”

*This essay has appeared many places during the last three decades. This appearance, in a 1980 advertisement for International Paper Company, is the earliest I have found.

1 comment:

  1. You've got some great posts to help folks write with more clarity here. Keep them coming!