Exercises in Style

In my continuing research about how to be a writer, I picked up a copy of Exercises in Style written in 1947 by Raymond Queneau.

exercises in style

I was instantly amazed and amused by the book.  It tells the same simple story 99 times, each in a different style.  The story is:  man gets on a bus, sees an altercation between two passengers, then sees one of those same passengers a couple hours later getting fashion advice.

Short and simple, right?

Like so much in life, the brevity and simplicity is part of the genius.

Queneau’s 99 versions, each stylized in a different way, are priceless.  As I was reading it, I imagined how much fun he had writing it.  Like the best courses, this seminar in writing entertains as it educates.  Not only does it instruct on the different types of styles it is possible to employ in the craft of writing, it also demonstrates the effect of each.