Butler, however, also knows something about styles – furious or otherwise. The idea of cohesive writing speaks directly to something that I mentioned in class the other day during our discussion. Namely that the chief idea behind writing is communication, and to that end we see that without some level of cohesion our writing is disjointed and choppy. Improving flow, as Butler points out, is an admirable quality and one that I suspect is so because we respect those who effectively communicate their ideas with us.
Butler points out several aspects of effective writing beyond simply “being good at it” as you can probably simplify the term “cohesion.” Ideas such as introductory sentences being emphasized (not as sentences, but with emphatic words) is something that I imagine carries a bit more weight than simply offering a sentence with no “flavor” for the digestion of the reader. Giving a reader a handhold upon which to build an expectation for their reading may seem like the literary equivalent of adding training wheels to a sentence but in reality, we see that it’s a way to indicate that important information is forthcoming. For some, simply skimming the written word is enough to glean the ideas being presented, and emphatic language is a signal to “stop and read this, there’s something important attached.” Again, going back to the idea of effective communication being the ideal we see that this is extremely potent voodoo.
Passive sentences, another aspect that Butler mentions, is something I’ve been told very specifically is never to be done. Ever. Under no circumstances. “Sentences that are passive are only so in an attempt to increase the count of the words in the paper that is being written.” That’s a long-winded way of saying that passive sentences are just a way to inflate word counts, and that’s just literary bad manners. It makes a thing hard to read and the intended audience is likely to think that you’ve got an inflated sense of self. Of course, Butler only mentions “the passive verb,” but the entire sentence is effected by this and thus, I chose to move further up the chain to where the real problem lies.