That’s it, really. Everything else should serve the truth and beauty of the stories we’re trying to tell. That’s not to say that all that craft we study and slave over isn’t important; it is.
But that stuff is nourishment. The rules are just first aid. Plot and structure provide clothing and shelter. Style is the result of our sitting down and transcribing truth and beauty, not the other way around. We cannot force it by trying to be clever or cute.
“Style is doomed, to the exact extent it implies a conscious effort to shape the language,” says Steve Almond. “There’s a simple reason for this: your artistic unconscious is about ten times more powerful as an imaginative tool than your conscious mind. But it only comes out to play when you forget yourself and focus on your people…Style, in other words, is the residue produced by the dogged pursuit of truth.”
We don’t get to create truth or beauty. They are ours to observe and enjoy. We get to borrow them, arrange them in new or interesting ways. On our best days, our experiments with light and shadow may reveal some new facet of truth or peel back the curtain to reveal some previously hidden beauty. But we’re not really creating anything new under the sun.
God provides the raw material. We simply curate.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts.