The Falconer Style
- is clear and unambiguous
- is grammatically, syntactically and orthographically correct in every detail
- has (I like to think) a certain elegance
- evinces an old-world charm too often lacking in today’s writing
- springs no surprises (no sex, profanities or violence)
- in short, provides good, wholesome, family entertainment!
- a wide and varied vocabulary
- a deliberate effort to overcome, with the judicious use of clauses, any tendency to parataxis
- careful punctuation, marking off phrases and clauses so that the eye is quickly guided through the text
- an effort to use words effectively, allowing each one its proper weight and giving each one a context in which its meaning is properly reflected
- an effort to create sentences which are well-balanced, both within themselves and with each other
- observance of traditional grammar and syntax in an effort to reflect accepted and reputable English usage as resorted to by the best authors. Authors he admires include Scott, Dickens, Graham Greene, H. E. Bates, John Moore, Charles Morgan, C. P. Snow, Galsworthy, Anthony Powell ... all of a past age!
- a balance among direct speech, indirect speech and narrative, to provide variety.
He just didn’t look right, though, sitting in a Fethering Beach café, whose frontage opened on to the shingle and where hordes of holidaymakers queued up for tea, burgers and ice cream. Amid all the tanned and sunburnt skin on display, Ted Crisp had a prisoner’s pallor. But then he never did go outside the pub much. Whether entirely true or not, it was his proud boast that he’d never before set foot on Fethering Beach. And it was only twenty yards from the front of the Crown and Anchor.
If Falconer had been writing this paragraph, he might have preferred to present it thus:
He just did not look right, however, sitting in a Fethering Beach café, the frontage of which opened on to the shingle and in which hordes of holidaymakers queued up for tea, burgers and ice-cream. Amid all the tanned and sunburnt skin on display, Ted Crisp had a prisoner’s pallor - but then he never did go outside the pub much. Whether entirely true or not, it was his proud boast that he had never before set foot on Fethering Beach - which was only twenty yards from the front of the Crown & Anchor.
The changes are small, but the overall effect, while subtle, is unmistakeable. Which does the reader prefer? It is a question not of what is right as opposed to what is wrong but of the ‘feel’ or atmosphere that the two writers wish to create. Brett is matey and comfortable, where Falconer is formal, more ‘literary’, clearly keen to distinguish dialogue from narrative.
Julius Falconer is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.
Books by Julius Falconer:
15 - A Fearful Madness
16 - Over and Doubt