La forme et le fond
With French literature it is not just the story that is important, but the way in which you tell it. La forme is as important as le fond. This little exchange between the presenter of the chatshow On n’est pas couché and journalist Eric Zemmour is illustrative:
LR: …Avant tout pour moi ce qui me plaît c’est une histoire dont j’ai envie de connaître la fin…. après éventuellement je le relis une deuxième fois et je juge du style.
EZ: Laurent ça c’est un jugement anglo-saxon de la littérature. Dans la littérature française on apprécie d’abord le style… c’est tout…donc moi je regarde d’abord le style… excusez-moi.
Les elisions dangereuses?
Clearly it is less of a challenge to improve your writing without being in a French-speaking country than it is your speaking or listening. However, whilst in Les Liaisons dangereuses Valmot employs his devastating eloquence to slowly seduce La Presidente de Tourvel via correspondence, these days, although we might write a few words on Facebook, even in English we are not in the habit of writing letters putting down our thoughts in a structured, detailed, and expressive way.
La discipline et la correction
Thus, this part of the process of learning French requires a certain amount of self-discipline. Given that I am not blessed with this, I find that a French language course helps me a lot because I know that each week I need to complete my homework. Of course when you commit your French to the page all your major and minor errors are laid bare and recorded. Nevertheless, if your teacher corrects you and you then review their corrections, you will improve. What-is-more, it gives you an invaluable record of what you need to work on.
Entretenir le jardin
Despite my best efforts to reel off fantastic set-piece French expressions with a soupçon of the subjunctive, I often find that I am let down by seemingly more basic things. For example, I have particular issues with masculines and feminines, accords, verbs and prepositions, and articles. Cultivating a habit of care and attention to these more fundamental elements of French grammar is vitally important.
Le monde selon…
One of the most enjoyable and liberating aspects of writing is being able put your thoughts and opinions into words. How often do you get the opportunity to explore your ideas about a range of different issues such as capital punishment, the education system, climate change or women’s rights? You can explore the arguments behind points of view with which you might not necessarily agree.
These pages contain resources such as interactive grammar exercises, translation tools, techniques to learn and practise difficult grammar and essay samples to help you improve your writing.