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Essay about Writing with Personal Style

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Writing with Personal Style


Writing style is completely malleable. In this sense, style is effected by the author’s mood, intended audience, knowledge on the topic, attitude toward the topic, environment and state of consciousness-- give or take. Some may even say that the movement of the moon changes one’s ability to bring words together. But that is not the whole story. Given a group of fifty students, all generally similar, put in the same environment, taught by the same teacher using the same techniques (et c), you will have fifty different styles. In this light, the argument about the essence of style is very much like the nature verses nurture argument. I believe that a certain amount of one’s style is just how they are hardwired. Albeit, style has its foundation in the mechanics and basic guidelines on what constitutes good writing.

In The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and in Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Williams; several ideas are discussed as having impact on one’s writing style. Among these points of interest are clarity, concision, and consistency, which were aspects deemed important in both works. Essentially, the authors held different perspectives on what constitutes good style, but nonetheless, there are areas of common ground between them.

Not only are the texts written to different audiences, their basic assumptions about the reader set the tone and usefulness for the books. Strunk and White wrote as if the rules are cut and dried and beholds the style of sharp militant commands (xiv). Additionally, they made the assumption that "the reader was someone who was in serious trouble most of the time" (xvii). On the other hand, Williams allows his text to take another stance for the reader, ...


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... our life experiences, environment and societal influences; therefore, we cannot expect a community pick up a comprehensive writing guide on style and then have a community of identical authors. Sure, they may be similar in some ways as they will be writing under the same standards, environmental and societal influences, as period literary work falls. But when we allow our style to uphold clarity, consistency and concision, we will have created good prose. But what make truly wonderful literary works is the ability to write true to one’s own style, with consistency, conciseness and clarity, but not to fall into a web of limitations and rules that hold us stifled in a box.

Works Cited

Strunk and White. "Elements of Style. 4th ed." New York; Longman 2000.

Williams, Joseph M. "Style Toward Clarity and Grace." Chicago; The University of Chicago Press, 1990.


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