As a writer, I try to concern myself with style of writing. But what does style mean? In Jacques Barzun’s Simple & Direct, I found the following passage, which I found clarifying at least in the sense that when I feel confused about style, it could be because style is deep and has many facets.
Style can mean a great many things. In one sense, everything urged in this handbook is assumed to make for a good style. In another sense, which will come up under Tone, a mode or pitch of expression will be called a (plain, high, arrogant, low, facetious) style. Still a third and a most important conception of style is that which has in view the particular mixture of words, constructions, rhythms, and forms of expression characteristic of a writer, and which makes his work recognizable even when unsigned. Style so understood is a natural outgrowth of the person’s mind and not something put together by an act of will [p.67, revised edition, 1985].
Not an act of will! Much deeper than where will reaches, in other words. Oh mercy.
More on Simple & Direct.