Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Key to Appealing Writing? (Survey Results!)

Before I get into my post, I would like to thank everyone for helping me out! As some of you know, I posted a survey last Thursday on whether sentence structure (writing) plays a role in a book. AND I HAVE THE RESULTS! And they are interesting :)

Your Opinions, Thoughts, Other Comments

Although writing style is indeed important, we can't forget about the other things! Like the plot, the characters, your own experiences and how they relate to the story (someone mentioned Reader Response Theory), a combination of everything. Oh, don't forget the FEELS. 

Everyone agreed that the way sentences are worded can make a book more appealing! (Well someone said "Sometimes", which I'll count as a half yes). So it does seem like everyone at least notices the way sentences are written and structured.

Now The Hard Part, The Analyses

There were a lot of quotes. A lot. What surprised me was how many long quotes there were. 

Basically, what I did was look through all the quotes for a similarity. What I did not expect, was to actually find one. See if you can spot it:

From Young Adult:
"But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were of her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other." - Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater

To Classics:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” - The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Even to this short little quote here:
“I am a badass, and I recognize that you, too, are a badass.” - City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

The Results!

I FOUND that all of these quotes all share one similarity in syntax, and that is the use of dependent clauses. For example, I will show you in my Grasshopper Jungle quote I posted last week.
Robby and I were the gods of concrete rivers, and history does prove to us that wherever boys ride bicycles, paved roadways ribbon along afterward like intestinal tapeworms.

These bolded clauses cannot stand on their own, hence "dependent". There are two dependent clauses above in the quote. I don't even want to COUNT how many are in the previous quotes!

 Ok Val, Now What Does This All Mean?

Well, other than the fact that this may have been obvious to some people (Just let me have my moment anyway), and that this means I'll have a nice, non-frustrating paper to write, the bottom line is that it looks like writing styles lean towards using TONS of dependent clauses. 

Compare these two similar sentences (featuring Ollie the dog):
  1. Ollie leapt onto the couch, cuddling up to my side as I slept.
  2. Ollie leapt onto the couch and cuddled up to my side as I slept.
Do you prefer one or the other? Why? I have my predictions but I think it would make my paper stronger if I had genuine proof.

Also, another important point to make is our speech. When was the last time you spoke like you wrote? Do you randomly insert clauses here and there?

To Conclude

Of course, I also think that word choice and rhythm (and all the other things I mentioned in the beginning) play a part as well, but since this is a paper for Linguistics class, I have to talk about sentence structure (I know isn't that so sad? Just kidding). Of course I still have more technical stuff to research regarding this, blegh. But I do think that the use of dependent clauses make writing more appealing. 

To further strengthen my paper, I am currently looking at literature in Chinese and French. Maybe this isn't just an English thing, which would be cool. Or maybe it is ONLY an English thing! (Highly doubtful but still). 

To conclude, I really want your opinions about this! Or anything! Also please keep in mind I'm not telling you how to write (HA because I know nothing), this is for my Linguistics paper (which is due in a month) and I REALLY WANT TO GET AN A. That is my only goal in life. In other words I'm not an expert in writing (I don't even write fiction) but this is the topic I choose for my class!

Thanks for helping out with my paper! This was actually pretty fun! Feel free to comment, criticize, discuss!

Maybe I should do more surveys (not academics related). Ha