[BLANK AUDIO] [MUSIC] Welcome to the Craft of Style, my name is Salvatore Scibona, I'm a professor here at Western University. We started off planning this course thinking that we were going to call it The Craft of Language. And that's not the same thing as The Craft of Style. Language is more, I suppose, about a cultural agreement about what certain words mean and how we use certain syntaxes and we all speak, we might all in a community speak the same language, but the style is more individual, it's more about your voice, about how you use the language. In a way that's in the mid of awe, on a way that's like no one else, no one else uses it. So, this class is going to be organized in four modules, like all of the other courses in specialization enables those class in character. Emily gauge his class in setting and description and then Brando Skyhorse's class on plot. And like all of those classes, this class will have four modules, each of which ends in an exercise. And the exercises are all going to be not theoretical, they're not going to be quizzes, they're not going to be worksheets. There are going to be opportunities for you to write something on the page. And then once you take it to the peer review to get feedback from the other people taking this class. And those people are everywhere in the world. This isn't going to be a grammar lesson. It's going to be about small bore choices, why are we talking about choices so much? We talk a lot about choices when we talk about writing stories. A story is in written form a sense just the record of the choices that the writer's made. Absolutely, every letter in every order represents a choice. And many of the other parts of this specialization we're going to be talking about larger blocks of choices, how you construct a character, an idea of a character, but many of the things that we're going to be talking about for this class are as long as one word. Why choose one word rather than another word? These are the basic choices of language. Now, you might say this is my style, it's my own thing, isn't it just in me? I want it to come out the way I feel, when I write, I want to feel like this. [MUSIC] Or you say, look, I'm an artist and I want people to listen to me. When I write, I want this many people to be watching me and I want to sound like this. [MUSIC] Or you might say, well I'm so nervous when I write it. It's so personal and I don't want anybody screwing around with my style. I don't want interference. You might not want to feel like this. [MUSIC] Writing isn't music, that's right. It's not quite the same thing to learn how to use a language as it is to use a musical instrument. But everyone who plays an instrument has a certain style of playing. A pianist, a violinist has style and that style can be refined, it can get a little bit better, it can get muddier, it can get clearer, it can be sharp or it can be smooth. And you want to be able to have the ability to modulate your style in a way that suites the material that your working with. The language that you're going to be using is tremendously flexible. English is a language for example, is a language of just a tremendous number of words that mean almost exactly the same thing, but not exactly. Think of all the words that English has for what light does. It can gleam, it can shine, it could glitter, it can shimmer, it can do about 30 or 40 other things. And anyone who really knows their language from reading will know that there's a very slight difference between those things. I know this might seem like very, very small choices indeed but every word that you choose, that you put in your story, is a reflection of that freedom of choice. And what we're going to hope to learn to do in this class is in some way to balance the control of language with freedom in language. So, if we consider that the balance that we're going to be working with in this class is in some way between freedom and control, or grace and clarity on the other hand. How exactly do we balance those things? Does one of them have to win, and the other one have to lose? Well, I sure hope not. It's more like dancing, where someone makes a step here and the person with whom she's dancing makes a step back at the exact same moment. And these things can come in a sort of inward, outward, inhale, exhale motion. And that's really part of what you are negotiating, when you're using style, when you're using language in the construction of your story. This is a quotation from the composer John Cage on this subject. With clarity of rhythmic structure, grace forms a duality. Together they have a relation like that of body and soul. Clarity is cold, mathematical, inhuman, but basic and earthy. Grace is warm, incalculable, human. Opposed to clarity, and like the air. Grace is not used here to mean prettiness. It is used to mean the play with and against the clarity of the rhythmic structure. The two are always present together in the best works of the time. Arts Endlessly and life-givingly opposed to each other. Endlessly and life-givingly, what a great word. Life-givingly. Now you might say, what kind of control is that? Life-givingly isn't even a word but it sounds so good, doesn't it? You can tell he's a composer. And also on the other hand, just thinking about the meaning of the word. What does that mean? Life-givingly, it's so clear, to me anyway it's clear exactly what he means. That there is a balance, like inhaling and exhaling that gives life. Between this issue of grace on the one hand and control on the other hand. And this is what we're going to be doing in this class. Okay, so let's get moving onto the first module of this week, in which we'll talk about meaning, sense and clarity. You'll learn to put pressure on your words so that they mean what you intend. You'll learn to use sentences that are sensible, and finally the arch challenge for all prose writers to be clear.