Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

“Good Sentences, and Well Pronounced”

Someone once asked me how to go about achieving a writing style. Like the caterpillar challenged about its coordination in walking, I stumbled as soon as I started thinking about it.

I think the best answer I could offer was that you should try to state the obvious simply, and the style would take care of itself.

In a blog post titled Good Stuff, Lee Goldberg lifts a few sentences from Walter Kirn’s novel Up in the Air (source for the current George Clooney movie) and expresses a fitting admiration for Kirn’s handling of the words.

I genuinely believe that you can flip open a book and read any random sentence and it’ll tell you whether time spent with the author will be wasted. It’s not an absolute guarantee – I can think of many a literary novel where I’ve been seduced by style and let down by structure – but as a working principle, it serves me well.


2 responses to ““Good Sentences, and Well Pronounced””

  1. When I first started writing, my style was whatever I'd read or seen last. I could morph from Monty Python to Jane Austin via Brian Clemens in an hour. I think the more you write, the better you get and the quicker you are to find your voice.

    You're right about simplicity. My advice always is have something to say, say it and shut up. On a good day I even take my own advice.

  2. This is one of those books where I was seduced by the writing and let down by the plot/structure. That said, the time spent with the book was worth it to me because I found so many good descriptive sentences throughout to marvel over and learn from. What I admired about those descriptions was how they said so much with few words — and still maintained a strong pov, consistent attitude and just the right amount of humor (never a joke just for a joke's sake).