How do I let James Joyce--and others--develop my prose without...?


Literature makes a lion out of me. In its acquaintance, I'm prone to brash punctuation, archaic language, and woeful redundancy. In my young-adult fervor I attempt to emulate the masters.


As I read elegant prose I tend to notice the following grammatical inconsistencies in my work:

  1. Redundancy - Victorians used extra language (often french synonyms) to bolster social status.
  2. Overly complex compound clauses.
  3. Complex, and misused punctuation (hyphens, colon, semicolon etc.).** this might be the worst
  4. Archaic language.

How do I let Joyce develop my prose without getting too far ahead of myself? What warnings or tips do you have that could help me avoid try-hard grammatical failure?

1 answer


I have one thing to add to Patty's excellent answer.


Focus first on what the writer is saying -- the content and meaning -- rather than the writer's style. Joyce is a great writer primarily because what he said he said had lasting truth -- and secondarily because he was a great stylist.


If a writer's words carry no essential meaning or truth, no amount of wordsmithing can save the day.


I hope this helps.

link answered Feb 17 '13 at 19:48 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I see now! So, style is a vessel for lasting truth. Partly we remember Shakespeare's elegance, but most of all we remember the incredible truth of his words. This is exceptionally helpful, thank you, Jeff.

Iain SutherlandFeb 17 '13 at 23:08

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