Style: Where Structure Creates Meaning

A popular method of creating style that I have witnessed in literature and English classes is using textual structure to create meaning that is relevant to the work. I know someone already mentioned Hemingway, but one style he popularized was the iceberg concept. The iceberg concept is the method of using minimal dialogue to suggest deeper meaning. The top of the iceberg is the text, the meaning is the submerged portion. It is the writer’s responsibility to infer that meaning from the structure of the text.

Another example of this would be with novel Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Catch-22 was a famous postmodernist novel that discussed ambiguity in society and confusion and rebellion toward authority figures during wartime. The language structure is confusing and contradicting and it serves to enhance the themes of uncertainty in society toward institutions.

As writers we can use the structure of words and sentences to tap into greater meanings and themes. Whether you want to do it through minimalism like Hemingway, or contradiction like Heller, you can adjust your structure to your story’s needs and purposes to craft a personal style.

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