In terms of research writing, Serge Durflinger’s Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun Quebec is an example of clear writing used to express ideas succinctly. His choice of vocabulary also contributes to my positive opinion of his writing. He uses appropriate words that express his ideas plainly, but also maintain a scholarly tone. The clarity of his writing can be seen in this passage:
Ottawa recognized early that the war eventually would cause a housing shortage and social distress. Federal authorities quickly began regulating the distribution of building material and the labour supply allotted to housing construction. Since the expanding defence industries received first priority, fewer residential structures were built and fewer still were of an adequate size and quality to meet market demands (Durflinger, 2006, 137).
Here, Durflinger manages to keep his prose tight without making his writing sound too clinical or stilted. He also avoids falling into that old trap of using language in a way that obscures what the writing is trying to express. The simplicity is truly admirable and something I aspire to since my writing tends towards the awkward and wordy.
Ernest Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” and William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” are two short stories that I think have something to contribute to research writing. I am a huge fan of well written short stories since it truly is an art form that requires an author to have a firm grasp of their craft. Writing short stories requires efficient use of effective language, which is something that both Hemmingway and Faulkner do in my chosen examples.
In Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” the dialogue is short, clipped and abundantly clear. The way he forms these sentences creates the perfect atmosphere for the piece and is a stunning example of the power of subtext and metaphors. His language is used to great effect to create a rich world that he allows us a glimpse into.
William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” also makes an incredible use of language. His ordinary choice in words and accessible writing is powerful and speaks directly to the reader, subtly effecting the way that they feel about the characters and events in the short story. Faulkner, like Hemmingway, is a writer that can express what he wants very quickly, clearly and subtly, in a way that conveys meaning to the reader exceptionally well and with no need of wordy, lengthy passages.
Durflinger, S. (2006) Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun Quebec. Vancouver: UBC Press. 312.
Faulkner, W. (1993) “Barn Burning.” Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner. New York: The Modern Library.1-25.
Hemmingway, E. (1987) “Hills Like White Elephants.” The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemmingway: The Finca Vigia Edition. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 129-131.