Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
This-here is pretty interesting. A fellow named Adam J Calhoun wondered what different novels might look like if you took out all the words and had nothing left but the punctuation marks. As he puts it in his Medium post, “Writing can be beautiful because of the words an author chooses to use: but it can also be beautiful because of the choice of punctuation.”
Go to Calhoun’s post and look at the image at the top (I didn’t reproduce it because he must not have seen my request for permission …). On the left is Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. On the right is Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!. Right away you can see that McCarthy is all about blunt statements — a lot of them — peppered with a lot of questions. Faulkner, on the other hand, is a blubbering madman in comparison, inserting myriad (to use one of his favorite words) parenthetical side-trips that show up here like bullet holes on a paper target.
To my mind, this boils down essentially to an author’s sense of rhythm. It’s like the difference between John Philip Sousa and Thelonious Monk. And maybe rhythm and space are elements that have been de-emphasized the last few years, because — as I talked about in “Gatecrash” — I see a lot of sameness in the personality of much writing these days. Maybe this is because readers are changing, or have changed, but it might also be that writers are emulating other, successful writers too much. They forgot one key (though maybe now clichéd) piece of advice from the writers’ workshops of yesteryear: find your own voice.
Calhoun says he was inspired to do this project (and he does analyze quite a few novels this way, from Ulysses to Frankenstein) by a series of posters. You can look at those here. Awesome, no?
Punctuation. Don’t take it for granted, or, to put it another way: Be kind to your colon.