Take a look at these:
From Clarkesworld Guidelines:
Stories must be:
1. Well-written. Language is important. There is no distinction between “style” and “substance” or “story” and “writing.”
From Ideomancer Guidelines:
We want unique pieces from authors willing to explore non-traditional narratives and take chances with tone, structure and execution, balance ideas and character, emotion and ruthlessness.
From Fantasy Magazine Guidelines:
Fantasy is entertainment for the intelligent genre reader — send us stories of the fantastic that make us think, and tell us what it is to be human while amazing us with your mastery of language and story elements.
From Intergalactic Medicine Show Guidelines:
We also look for clear, unaffected writing. Asimov, Niven, Tolkien, Yolen, and Hobb are more likely to be our literary exemplars than James Joyce.
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Style, in writing, is one of those spectra where you have a lot of divisive, strong-willed opinions. (The above are very watered-down versions of the heated arguments I’ve seen). There’s an argument about style that usually consists of an argument for a “literary style” on one end or “American Plain Style” aka “no style” on the other in writing fiction.
I’m one of those fence sitters who think everyone is being ridiculous to be having this argument. Style of writing and word choice to me is like music. You can have baroque or you can have romantic, jazz or classical, rock or opera. You can even have combinations of any of the above. But movies still need soundtracks. Books still need words, (you can’t have a book without them!) and words shape themselves into sentences, paragraphs, voice…and therefore style.
An author’s writing style to me is never invisible. I notice the word choice, voice, sentence structure, its appearance on the page like a carefully orchestrated visual art. A movie soundtrack is never invisible to me, either, though people say it is meant to be and it is true that most people do not notice a soundtrack while watching a movie. Yet if a piccolo plays, I’ll pick it out. I love, absolutely love the melodies given to french horns. If a movie decides to go for an all rock recording, I may think twice about buying it, because it will date itself in five years. But Daft Punk‘s soundtrack for Tron: Legacy was glorious.
You can’t write a book without the author having a particular flavor, a particular style of writing. So why try to write “stylelessly”? It’s like trying to live without eating! Even “See Jane run” is a different style than “Look! Jane just sprinted across the field!”
Yes, this is me much amused.
Translators know how unavoidable style is–and how much a pain it can be to transfer to another cultural context. You have a source text–and then how you translate that text depends entirely on the whims of the client and what style they wish it to be, (as well as other specifications). Here are some examples from my 2008 portfolio, (note: I’ve improved since then).
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Un monstre, un valet de coeur
Vous connaissez le nom d’au moins un des hommes d’armes qui accompagnaient Jeanne d’Arc. Comment? Vous ne voyez vraiment pas car vous n’êtes pas une spécialiste de l’histoire médiévale? Et pourtant, le nom de Barbe-Bleue vous dit bien quelque chose, non? Eh bien, c’est un compagnon bien réel de la Pucelle qui a inspiré à Charles Perrault cette créature de contes. Gilles de Rais, valeureux guerrier, combattit les Anglais, assista au sacre de Charles VII, mena encore quelques combats avant de se retirer dans son château de Tiffauges, en Vendée. Là, il mena grand train, se passionna pour l’alchimie et la magie noire, invoqua le Diable et, surtout, viola et assassina plusieurs centaines d’enfants, surtout de jeunes garçons. Il fut jugé et exécuté en 1440 à Nantes. Un autre des conseillers de Jeanne ne vous es pas inconnu : il s’agit d’Etienne de Vignolles, dit << La Hire >>, qui n’est autre que le valet de cœur des cartes à jouer.
From L’histoire de France des paresseuses by Frédéric Bosc (c) 2006, published by Marabout.
-Due Thursday Friday 28, 2008 Target language: English
-Keep the playful voice
-Assume that the American audience has an even more limited kowledge of French history than the text implies, (added after initial translation attempts).
Do you know the name of at least one of the men-at-arms who accompanied Joan of Arc? No? You’re not really a Medieval History specialist, you say? But you have heard the name Blue Beard, haven’t you? Well, Charles Perrault, the author of the tale of Blue Beard, was inspired by one of her real-life men-at-arms. Gilles de Rais the valorous warrior fought the English, attended Charles VII’s coronation, and led several battles before retiring to his chateau de Tiffauges in Vendée. There he lived a life of debauchery, became passionate for alchemy and black magic, invoked the Devil and, notably, raped and murdered several hundred children–especially young boys. He was judged and executed in 1440 at Nantes. Another of Joan’s comrades is also known to you: Etienne de Vignolles, nicknamed “La Hire” for his violent temper, is none other than the Jack of Hearts in your deck of playing cards.
The question came up in class about my translation above of whether or not the word “chateau” is commonly known enough to the general English populus to warrant an explanation and/or complete reworking of how geography is handled in the passage.
Otherwise, the most noted changes we made were to clarify the words “compagnons”, “conseillers”, to clarify the play on words that is “La Hire”, and correct my word for “sacre”.
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Un extrait des Essais
Or je trouve, pour revenir à mon propos, qu’il n’y a rien de barbare et de sauvage en cette nation, à ce qu’on m’en a rapporté, sinon que chacun appelle barbarie ce qui n’est pas de son usage ; comme de vrai, il semble que nous n’avons autre mire de la vérité et de la raison que l’exemple et idée des opinions et usances du pays où nous sommes. Là est toujours la parfait religion, la parfait police, parfait et accomli usage de toutes choses. Ils sont sauvages, de meme que nous appelons sauvages les fruits que nature, de soi et de son progès ordinaire, a produits : . . .
From Des cannibales from Essais by Montaigne, Pocket Classiques version, pg. 129
-Due Thurs March 6, 2008 Target language: Old & Modern English
Version 1: Old, Formal English
Thus, I find, going back to my argument, there’s nothing barbarous or savage-like in this nation, on which subject I’ve heard so much about, in any case, what we call barbarousness is not the word’s correct usage; in reality, it seems to me that we have no other criteria for truth or reason than the example and idea of the opinions and usages of that country from which we hail. Here is always the perfect religion, the perfect organization, complete and accomplished usage of all things. These are the savages, with those same men we call savage “fruits of nature”, that a person and his ordinary advances have produced.
Version 2: After Revision.
Thus, returning to my argument, I find that there is nothing barbarous or savage in this nation– which subject I have heard so much about–that, contrary to popular belief, what every man calls barbarous is only that which he is not accustomed to; in truth, it seems to me that we have no other criteria for truth and reason except for the example and idea of the opinions and customs from our own native country. Here we always have the perfect religion, the perfect government, complete and accomplished habits in all things. Others are savage, in the same way that we call wild the fruit that Nature–by itself and its own natural progress–has produced: . . .
Version 3: Modern, Informal English
In any case, going back to my argument, I’ve discovered that, despite what everyone has been saying, there’s nothing “barbaric” in this nation except for what people find as strange or different; in actuality, it seems to me that we have little on which to base our judgements of “what is truth” except for the concepts, opinions, and customs of our own country. Here, our religion is perfect, our government system is perfect, and our customs are perfect and accomplished. Over there they are wild, just like fruit grown wild is an ordinary process of nature, . . .