Ben Woollard

Ben Woollard

Aspiring writer. Learner. bwoollard.com

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

4

Content Vs. Style in Writing

It seems to me that there can be said to be two primary aspects, roughly speaking, that go into any form of writing, but especially fiction writing. First, there is content, which includes everything to plot, to scenery, to dialogue and character development. Then there is style, which refers to how the language is being used in creative ways to express something. Many writers seem to have one down solidly, while the other side suffers. Who are some writers you think do one of these (or both) especially well, and how important to you think each aspect is to creating good fiction writing?

  • This one's tough. Usually people don't have acclaim for solely doing one aspect well. When I think of style I think of Hemingway and how many sought to mimic his writing for generations to come. And then there's Stephanie Meyers, who people say is a terrible writer with no style, but somehow she creates content that is wildly appealing to a huge audience. Dan Brown might be someone who has content (plot) down, but no style to speak of. – Nate OcĂ©an 4 years ago
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  • I have definitely encountered this in recent novels. The novel that I am currently reading seems to favour common tropes and lacks fluidity in the writing itself but the plot is constantly moving, hooking me in and forcing me to finish the book. It would be interesting to highlight writers that do both well and try to explain how they manage it. – ReidaBookman 4 years ago
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  • This seems to be an idea based around rhetoric. I wonder if the two can be mutually exclusive. Since style is the way a writer uses language, if literary devices such as plot, symbolism, dialogue, etc are lacking or suffering, would it not follow that the style is also suffering. If the use of language doesn't lift the plot, wouldn't both style and plot be suffering? Moreover, wouldn't plot (or whichever literary device) be suffering because of style?I wonder if the strong use of literary devices and/or style are suffering because of the pressure to publish. Does the market cause works to suffer? Does the lack of grammar being taught in schools cause these works to suffer? Is there a larger force causing this issue you've mentioned because I agree it exists. – DKWeber 3 years ago
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Latest Comments

Ben Woollard

I’ve got to disagree when you say that the art in Miyazaki’s films is “less complex” than the new Disney/Pixar films. Just because it’s hand drawn doesn’t make it less complex, in fact I think the opposite could well be argued. I think Ghibli’s art is insanely ornate and complicated, often filling scenes with otherworldly, detailed objects (I’m thinking of Howl’s bedroom in Howl’s Moving Castle, for example). Glad to see a post on this, these have long been some of my favorite movies.

The Magic and Artistry of Studio Ghibli's Films
Ben Woollard

I would agree with others comments that say a books rereading value really depends on the book. I find that there are a ton of books that can be well-digested in a single read, while others are nearly impossible to do so with. Some examples that come to mind are books like Ulysses, or Gravity’s Rainbow, which are works of such daunting and genius complexity that to really understand them requires a large amount of supplementary and close-reading, and have a potentially inexhaustible amount of artistic merit. That said, I think books such as Ulysses might be better read extremely carefully, rather than multiple times, although of course to do both would be ideal.

Why Reread Books? The Pros and Cons of Rereading
Ben Woollard

There’s a lot of legitimacy to the idea that a person has natural talents and weaknesses. We all start from a different place. That said, I find it frustrating how many people still subscribe to the idea that said weaknesses are unconquerable, or that a lack of talent means they will be unsuccessful in their pursuit. While this may certainly make the challenge more difficult, I don’t believe there is any reason why a person cannot overcome any intellectual or creative shortcomings. Yes, some people are less imaginative, and some think less clearly, but does that mean that these traits cannot be strained and improved? I don’t think so, and therefore I think to even ask the question of whether or not people can be taught to write is to do a massive disservice to the potential of the individual. Does that mean that every person will overcome said shortcomings? Of course not, but I tend to believe that there is always the possibility.

Can you Teach Someone how to Become a Writer?