How many times have you reread the same story?
Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau is a collection of the same story, written 99 different ways.
Some of the stories are fascinating retellings in various styles. Some are stereotypes (feminine, cockney, Gallacism, exclamations), some are in different perspectives (past, present, blurb, ignorance), some are different styles (noble, comedy, cross-examination, notation, sonnet, ode), and some are rather odd (dog Latin, permutations by groups of letters).
Exercises in Style is a book that is short and sweet. It sets out what it was trying to do: show how style can change a story, depending on either the narrator or the particular way of writing. Some of them were perfect examples of the impact of style, while others seemed odd to me. In the end, it was a quick read that gave me ideas for developing my own writing style – and it gave me ideas for fun practice in imitating others and changing voice.
My favorite of all of the styles was the last style: Unexpected. It was the most creative and showed me that we can take a simple, rather boring story and add something interesting to it in the end.
I’d love to do my own 99 exercises in style. I think this is fun.