Wenqi (文气) is the personality an author demonstrates in his works, and is a fusion of his innate temperament and the vitality seen in his works. Originally, qi (气) referred to the basic element in the initial birth and formation of all things, as well as heaven and earth. In literary criticism, it refers to an author’s distinctive individuality and its manifestation in his writings. Humans are believed to develop different characters and traits endowed by the qi of heaven and earth. Reflected in literary creation, such different characters and traits naturally find expression in distinctive styles and varying degrees of vigor as well as rhythm and cadence.
Literary writing is governed by qi. Either clear or murky, qi determines the temperament of a writer, refined or vulgar, and his talent, high or low. Qi cannot be acquired. (Cao Pi: On Literary Classics)
If a writer has a strong inner flow of qi, the length of his sentences will be well-balanced, and his choice of tone and cadence will just be right. (Han Yu: A Letter of Response to Li Yi)