It always thought prose to be good enough if possessing rhythm and clarity. But according to some books I have read on style, more is involved in engaging the reader. So can you include some techniques to accomplish this, in the answers to this question?

Thank you.

  • 1
    I'm sorry to be so blunt, but you're currently not succeeding at 'clear'. People have been trying to tell you that for quite a while. I'd suggest you focus on clarity ahead of rhythm or prose style, and that goes double when you're posting on Stack Exchange. Jun 6, 2021 at 23:46
  • 1
    Okay. I fixed it
    – garbia
    Jun 7, 2021 at 0:33
  • Okay, in response to the downvotes to this question, I have corrected the issues that prompted them. So please, if you are willing, remove the downvotes.
    – garbia
    Jun 7, 2021 at 14:33
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    The question is too broad to be answered because it covers literally all prose: physics research, saucy romances, obituaries, sci-fi, and so much more.
    – Laurel
    Jun 7, 2021 at 15:51
  • Okay, then I myself will vote for the closing of the question.
    – garbia
    Jun 7, 2021 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


Content. Even the greatest style won't sell a boring story. Content is the king, and while bad style will be detrimental, even generic, very mediocre, bland style will suffice if the story you tell is fascinating. This should be your main focus, not the style. This is what makes or breaks the overall quality.

Clarity is essential to reach that "generic, very mediocre, bland" threshold and is the only actual prerequisite of style. A fascinating story told clearly can stand on its own and doesn't require anything else from the style.

But you can improve upon that with other facets of style. They aren't necessary, but they can help.

That rhythm you write about is one of them, making for a more pleasant reading, alongside with flow, correctly portioning information and events, delivering nicely segmented bite-sized chunks - the grammatical split into sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters matching the logical structure of what you're telling.

Pacing is both a part of flow, and a feature of its own - this time segmenting intensity of the story, mixing up "slow" and "fast" neither to bore nor to exhaust the reader.

Weight - adapting the style to the mood you want to present. Humor, pathos, terror, chaos, serenity, glory - whichever the story demands can be improved by the style. A slow, broad panorama, a skeletal sketch of rapid events (or opposite, painstaking details of presenting them in slow-motion), haze of sickness, blindness of rage - choosing the right words, the right weight to match will add to the scene. Choosing wrong will turn it into a parody of itself (be it intentionally, or not). Although with some events staying completely dry, reporting faithfully, clearly and emotionlessly may be even more impactful.

Focus - in micro- and macro-scale. Think of it as camera work and editing the cuts. It's a tricky tool which can be completely omitted without harm, keeping the story flowing simply from the beginning to the end, and with whatever important happens being always in the focus. But you can sometimes shift it for a great impact. Instead of showing a battle of titans up-close, show it from the point of view of an accidental bystander. Instead of going from the beginning to the end, start with the ending and then get us on a journey of "How in the world did we arrive there?". You can show things the reader didn't consider, you can add drama or mystery, or hilarity by picking the right focus.

Closely related to the focus is, perspective. Not just first-, second-, third-person, your narrator omniscient, limited, unreliable. It may be an entire shift in format - a found diary, a system log showing some unusual events, a medical report. A good example of this perspective shift is the "SCP Foundation wiki", where classic storytelling is replaced with (or embedded within) faux documentation files on anomalous entities.

And finally, Color or flavor, however you call it, is your personal touch on the style that differentiates it from "generic", even "good, generic". It's surprising the reader with the unusual use of language, or original, unorthodox metaphors and similes, it's making your prose soar exactly the way bricks don't.

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