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The Language of Creative Writing

Scott, Jeremy (2018) The Language of Creative Writing. In: The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies. Routledge, London, UK. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:63227)

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This chapter takes a somewhat unorthodox approach to the discussion of creative writing practice by asserting that the discipline can be approached from the perspective of language studies as well as, as is more usual, within the context of literary studies (hence accounting for the chapter’s position in this volume). It will justify this assertion by using a critical framework drawn from literary stylistics (sometimes referred to as literary linguistics): the analysis of literary discourse using frameworks drawn from linguistics. It will proceed from the premise that an understanding of stylistics has a great deal to offer the creative writer; the discussion and suggestions for practice are not intended to relate to creative writing pedagogy (although they may of course have applications in the classroom), but rather to the act of creative writing ‘at the coalface’. A summarising ambition of the chapter, then, is to reverse the usual stylistic paradigm of post-event textual analysis and to instil ‘stylistic awareness’ at the forefront of the writing mind: in the act of creative writing.

In the introductory section, the fundamental paradigms of the chapter will be set out: first, stylistics’s posing of the question of whether or not there is such a thing as a ‘literary language’, and, second, the dichotomy between mimesis and diegesis (loosely characterised in the Aristotelian sense as ‘showing’ versus ‘telling’). The second section will centre around the proposition that in literary discourse, the reader is ‘seeing through language’ (in both senses of that phrase), and that it will benefit the writer to take account of the processes involved in practice. A cline exists between ‘standard’ discourse, which aspires towards transparency, to more self-conscious, linguistically deviant modes of expression, often considered to be somehow more ‘literary’. The writer may situate their ‘voice’, whether in poetry or narrative fiction, at either end of this cline, or, much more commonly, at a point somewhere along it, or even fluctuating back and forth across it. The position of the voice on this cline is also a characteristic of literary genre (i.e. poetry versus prose). Thirdly, the chapter will draw on narratology to discuss story structure and the relationship between ‘discourse’ and ‘plot’. Next, there will be a section with suggestions for practice, which will include discussion of the following stylistic ‘tropes’ in direct relation to creative practice, and exercises through which the various topics can be explored: point of view and focalisation, figurative language, presenting speech and thought, metaphor, and, finally, prosody: rhythm, metre, sound and sense. The final section will speculate on further possible connections between developing areas of stylistics and English Language Studies more broadly and creative writing, e.g. cognitive metaphor theory, possible world theory, text-world theory and deictic shift theory.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Creative Writing, English Language Studies, Metaphor, Discourse Presentation, Narratology, Prosody
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > English Language and Linguistics
Depositing User: Jeremy Scott
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 10:35 UTC
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 19:05 UTC
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