• C.S.Lewis "How to Write"

    From Dallas Hinton@1:153/715 to All on Fri Mar 2 18:00:57 2018
    Hi All!

    A colum from www.io9.com:

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    Writing advice from C.S. Lewis was both adorable and concise On June 26, 1956, author C.S. Lewis responded to a fan letter from Joan Lancaster, a young Chronicles of Narnia enthusiast.

    In a personalized thank-you letter, the writer imparted some simple and valuable stylistic advice for budding prose writers. Behold, how to write like Aslan. Lewis began his correspondence by provided pointers on literary matters both existential...

    If you become a writer you'll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.

    ...and grammatical.

    There are no right or wrong answers about language in the sense in which there are right and wrong answers in Arithmetic. "Good English" is whatever educated people talk; so that what is good in one place or time would not be so in another [...] Don't take any notice of teachers and textbooks in such matters. Nor of logic.

    But the true pith of the letter came when the author offered five easy tips:

    1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you
    mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.

    2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't
    implement promises, but keep them.

    3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean
    "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."

    4. In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us
    to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of
    telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be
    terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when
    we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying,
    wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers,
    "Please will you do my job for me."

    5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when
    you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to
    talk about something really infinite.

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    Cheers... Dallas

    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: The BandMaster, CANADA [telnet: bandmaster.tzo.com] (1:153/715)