Kurt Vonnegut wrote the following for the International Paper company as an advertisement:
Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.
These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful — ? And on and on.
Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.
So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.
1. Find a subject you care about
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.
2. Do not ramble, though
I won’t ramble on about that.
3. Keep it simple
As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. “To be or not to be?” asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story “Eveline” is this one: “She was tired.” At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.
Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
4. Have guts to cut
It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.
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 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.
In some of the more remote hollows of Appalachia, children still grow up hearing songs and locutions of Elizabethan times. Yes, and many Americans grow up hearing a language other than English, or an English dialect a majority of Americans cannot understand.
All these varieties of speech are beautiful, just as the varieties of butterflies are beautiful. No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens to not be standard English, and if it shows itself when your write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue.
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. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.
6. Say what you mean
I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable — and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing, if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.
Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.
7. Pity the readers
They have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don’t really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school — twelve long years.
So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient readers, ever willing to simplify and clarify — whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.
That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique Constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.
8. For really detailed advice
For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, in a more technical sense, I recommend to your attention The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. E.B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.
You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself, if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.
Find a subject you care about
Do not ramble, though
Keep it simple
Have guts to cut
Sound like yourself
Say what you mean
Pity the readers
from: How to Use the Power of the Printed Word, Doubleday
Available from International Paper, Dept 5DM, P.O. Box 954, Madison Sq. Sta., N.Y. NY 10010 for $7.95 (includes $2.00 for p and h).
Just wanted to thank you for all your wonderful art and comics that you had drawn. I really do find your drawings and other ideas to be very creative and/or funny, not to mention your drawing style (it's really cute). I understand, that running this and other blogs is time-consuming and sometimes tiring, so, thank you very much for sharing your art and other thoughts/ideas. Wish you all the best!
It’s been an amazing and fun experience to share my artwork here, I’ve been welcomed in this fandom and on this site very warmly and I appreciate it so so much!
I’m so happy you like what I do and I’m glad you like my drawing style, thank you! Thank you for taking your time to send me a message, it means a lot to me. Have a great day, Lovely Anon I wish you the Best as well!
Rules: TAG THE PERSON WHO TAGGED YOU AND LET THEM KNOW WHEN YOU’VE FINISHED. ANSWER THE QUESTIONS/TASKS AND THEN TAG 20 PEOPLE. LET THE TAGGED PEOPLE KNOW THEY’VE BEEN TAGGED.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Answer these questions:
1. How tall are you? 1.57 m haha.
2. What color and style is your hair? Wavy dark brown hair, currently in a medium bob. I either let it hang loose or tie it up in a bun.
3. What color are your eyes? Hazel (light brown/greenish), although people from Latin America told me they were yellow.
4. Do you wear glasses / contacts? I am practically blind without glasses. I seldomly wear contacts, in occasion of some big events.
5. Do you wear braces? I used to as a child but I stopped like the idiot I am and now I have horridly crooked teeth.
6. What is your fashion style? WHY WOULD YOU ASK ME THIS I DON’T KNOW. Hipsterish maybe? I like handmade jewels, leather bags, optical prints, monochrome, loose dresses.
YOU IN GENERAL
7. What is your name? Angela
8. When were you born? January 20th
9. How old are you? 28 :(
10. Where are you from/live now? I’m from a small town in Apulia (Southern Italy), but for the past ten years I’ve been living in Rome, Germany, Canada, Denmark. I’m currently in my hometown, but moving to Belgium at the end of the month.
11. Do you have siblings? One younger brother and one younger sister.
12. What school/college do you go to? I’m outta the academic world, I got my double master’s in global studies in 2013 and since then i’ve been more or less working somehow.
13. What kind of a student are you? I used to study a lot, although I hated learning by heart, so I was mostly just reading textbooks/notes and absorbing notions and concepts. I was top of my class, and one of the school’s top students, during high school.
14. Do you even like school? I like learning, and wouldn’t mind doing a PhD for the possibility of doing research and field work, but I hate the academic world.
15. What are your favorite school subjects? I loved Italian lit, ancient Greek/Latin lit, and history the most.
16. What are your favorite shows? True Detective (season 1 only), Queer as Folk US, Spartacus, Tutti Pazzi per Amore, Sense8, The Honourable Woman, The Musketeers, Borgia (the European production). New entry (cos I’m binge-watching it these days): Gomorrah.
17. What are your favorite movies? I’m not a huge cinephile, meaning I do love movies, but I don’t watch many of them, and I hardly ever watch cult or classic movies. This said, my favourites are Velvet Goldmine, Et Maintenant On Va Où?, The Magdalene Sisters, Schindler’s List, La finestra di fronte, The mummy, C.R.A.Z.Y., The life of others, Y tu mama tambien, Bedknobs and broomsticks, Blackbeard’s ghost. And I’m sure I’m forgetting quite a few.
18. What are your favorite books? Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s Death of beauty, Fedor Dostoevskij’s The brothers Karamazov, Hermann Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Louisa May Alcott’s Little women, Giovanni Verga’s Vita dei campi + Novelle rusticane, Federico De Roberto’s The Viceroys, Ernesto De Martino’s The land of remorse, Christa Wolf’s Medea, Carlo Levi’s Christ stopped at Eboli.
19. What is your favorite pass time?
Reading, plotting AUs and headcanons with my sisters in arms ( hardbonarasereppu), biking around aimlessly, going to cafés.
20. Do you have any regrets? Too many to count.
21. What is your dream job? If we’re talking about dreams then being a novelist would still be it, but I have no talent nor time, so, beaing more realistic, I would love to work in the field of communication for the third sector, hopefully for an institution that works for human rights or for the development of Southern Italy.
22. Would you like to get married one day and where? No fucking way
23. Would you like to have kids one day and how many? No fucking way pt. 2.
24. Are you a girly girl, a regular girl or more of a tomboy? These are stupid and irritating labels. But according to them, I’m a cross between regular and tomboy.
25. Do you like shopping? Only when it comes to books and jewels. I HATE shopping for clothes.
26. What countries have you visited so far? Not counting visiting Italy extensively, I’ve been to Portugal, Spain, France, Greece, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, USA. Oh, as well as San Marino and the Vatican :^)
27. What is the scariest nightmare you have ever had? Probably that nightmare I had as a child of finding myself in a Nazi lager during WWII.
28. Do you have enemies? Hopefully not??
29. Who are your best friends? Some people who are not on tumblr.
30. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and what is their name? Nay.
You're honestly an inspiration, watching your snaps and seeing how confidently you walk down the streets in America with your hijab and clothes styled on fleek is honestly mind-boggling, I hope you realize that💗
Hey, do you have any tips on how to approach a tattoo studio if you're trying to find an apprenticeship? Or general any tips on how to do it? When is the best time? Etc?
i have a background in graphic design & illustration and eventually became a selftaught tattooer, so i never had a formal apprenticeship. my advice would be to find a studio that actually takes on apprentices, where you feel comfortable with the people working there. get tattooed, be friendly & modest, ask if you might show them your drawings to get a ittle feedback, and maybe things will develop.
the most important part is the drawing, in my opinion. you need to draw as much as possible, find out what your personal style is. if you like someone’s art, copy it and learn from it to create something of your own. try out different drawing techniques, different pens and colors and papers… it takes time, but if you really wanna do it, it’s possible. good luck!