I read a lot. I know, as a writer, it is a good practice to read, but incidentally, I also enjoy it. And so, I read a lot. As a result, one of my favorite things to do is analyze a writer’s style. It’s fascinating that everybody can be so different. It makes you wonder where it comes from, what part of a writer’s brain permits them to process the words in such a unique way.
I can think of no better example of this phenomenon that Alan Alexander Milne’s 1926 masterpiece, Winnie the Pooh. He does something that many readers find irritating in adult fiction: what can be said in five words often turns into a whole paragraph. In children’s literature, however, this practice is integral. It paints a glorious picture, and as we know, children have the most incredible imaginations. It’s easy to conjure up an image when the writing looks like this:
“‘That buzzing noise means something. You don’t get a buzzing noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there’s a buzzing noise, somebody’s making a buzzing noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you’re a bee.”
The repetition of buzzing noise emphasizes what it is Milne wants his young readers to pay attention to. This is one of his hallmarks, something that makes his writing unique, and very clearly defines his style.
But, of course, style is more than just repetition of a phrase. Style is the way we string words together and how that particular series of words profoundly affects the reader. This is why it is so difficult to teach style. As Milne shows us, style is something deeply personal, something that you practice from the time you begin writing until your final piece leaves your fingertips. Although I do love Milne’s style, I also know that it isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay too. That’s why there are so many writers. If everybody wrote exactly the same way, some people wouldn’t even enjoy reading, and that would truly be a shame.