Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Elegance -the abcedaria of a writer

Elegance
a : refined grace or dignified propriety
b : tasteful richness of design or ornamentation.
c : dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style
d : scientific precision, neatness, and simplicity
Elegance is something I strive after with my writing.  It is an elusive quality, and for me, has to do with several elements in the craft of writing - word choice, rhythm and plot.  Often it is discovered in revision, as if, when all the unnecessary words were cut away, what was left was elegant and spare. I think it is also what we look for with complicated plot structures - to find at the end - that there was only one way that things could have worked out. It is thrilling to come across it in a piece of writing and it can be any style (but perhaps florid?). I've found it in dime store mysteries, sci fi, horror, and the classics. It isn't about elegant things or people - it is simply using the most precise and evocative words in the clearest way and with a beguiling rhythm.

What do you think about elegance?

25 comments:

Siv Maria said...

Lovely post, even the word elegance, sounds elegant.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think you're right--the more precise we can get with a word, the better.

Misha said...

Ah man! I forgot I sort of wanted to write about this today. Oh well.

I love elegant writing with everything falling in the right places without seeming contrived.

:-)

Charlene A. Wilson said...

I love reading a book that flows and has an elegant choice of words and style. Great post. New follower here. :)

Liza said...

Love this...because what I strive for is "elegant and spare." Cut, cut, cut to the fine rhythm. Well said.

Bish Denham said...

Elegance, I even like the way it sounds, how it feels as it rolls around my mouth. It's about style and grace.

Rae said...

I simply love the word "elegant"...sounds so perfect! And always something worth striving for!

Tara Tyler said...

I think of Lady Di when I think of elegance. In writing, I believe "literary" is elegant. I'm more "commercial." People need that too, right?
Happy E Day!

Sheila Siler said...

I think simple and elegant often go hand in hand so I agree with cutting out all the unnecessary words. A goal I would like to achieve. Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Eve said...

Yes! So well said...elegance and simplicity..it is wonderful when a piece is not too wordy, it's all about the art of language..

Marjorie said...

I hope to one day achieve this sort of elegance. I never thought of elegance in writing a novel, but in poetry certainly.

fredamans said...

Elegance is a great trait to have. I strive for elegance myself.

http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2011/04/e-is-for-elvis.html

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Elegance is not easily achieved, but it should appear effortless. Of course, this is easier said than done. Lovely post, my dear one.

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - What a wonderful topic! To me, elegance in writing means that each word is there for a reason. There's nothing superfluous and yet, there are enough words (and the right words) to tell the story. There is more than one way to be elegant and I agree - the quality is elusive. But it's definitely a fine trait!

allison said...

I love when a sentence makes me literally gasp while reading, because it's just perfect and elegant. However, it seems like you can tell when writers are trying too hard to reach that point, because while their WORDS may be elegant, the emotion isn't there. And I think emotion goes hand-in-hand with elegance, like it's meant to take your breath away.

Now I just need to find a way to use it juuuuust right in my own writing!

- allison writes

Clarissa Draper said...

I love writers who choose their words for the sake of elegance. They write for the enjoyment of the reader. Elegance - great word.

Jeanne said...

What do I think of elegance? I love it, I love hearing the word, I love thinking about the concept, and I have absolutely no elegance to speak of. Strictly humor and wit. But I admire it.

Hart Johnson said...

I LOVE elegance in writing. I think my favorite is an elegant plot... one thing that pulls a lot of things together... makes me salivate. I also find very brief, unexpected description that brings a really vivid picture to be elegant. I try for it in my plotting. I am less good at it on the description.

Heather Henry said...

I think elegance is a lovely word. It conjures an image in my mind. Refined, graceful, complete. Very wonderful.
I love your profile description, by the way! :)
Have a splendid day!

Kimberly said...

I'm with many of the others in that even the word is very elegant in itself.

PencilGirl said...

Elegance is wonderful word.. And your views on the subject were elegantly expressed.. :)
Elegance in writing has never been something I have analysed consciously, but I guess I must have done so unconsciously, whenever I decided which write-up I liked, and which I didn't. I do not know whether I write elegantly or not, but I write from my heart, and hopefully, that is enough.. :) :)
I liked your post today, particularly because it made me pause for a while and think. So, great post! :) :)
Thank you for dropping by my blog. :) Happy A-Z!!

Carla said...

I really like the last two definitions combined...a scientific, precise, simple beauty. This is a great post, and I agree...writing can and should be elegant!

Carla

M Kathy Brown said...

Jan ~
An interesting array of topics for the A to Z Challenge...read through them all. Job well done :~)

Lisa Galek said...

Elegance is actually one of my favorite words. Everything I write has a different kind of elegance, I think/hope.

Alison Stevens said...

Couldn't have put it better, myself!