When an inexperienced writer presents me with a story in which he or she exhibits style, what I tend to see is a writer pushing too hard, stepping between the reader and the fictional world. Style is doomed to the exact extent it implies a conscious effort to shape the language - maybe I should say “a self-conscious effort to shape the language.” When I really admire an author, somebody like Saul Bellow or Jane Austen or Toni Morrison, I don’t think of them as having a style. They’re not writing to impress the reader, but to implicate them. They’re not throwing beautiful words at the page and hoping to produce truth. They’re trying to capture complex and painful truths, which is what lifts the language into beauty. Style, in other words, is the residue produced by the dogged pursuit of truth.
- Steve Almond, in a lecture to the Tin House Writer's Workshop, entitled "Everything They Told You In MFA School is Wrong, Except The Part About The Debt." You can listen to a podcast of the lecture here, and I recommend you do. It's very, very good. Thanks to Mike Hingston for pointing it out.