I hear inner Strunk and White voices of “don’t overwrite”, “write in a way that comes naturally,” and so forth, going through my head. I have visions of endless Williams examples and illustrations on clarity. I see weeks of blog writings flashing through my memory. From all of this, I now own and believe in a firm and personal definition of what style is and what good writing entails. William Strunk and E.B. White’s book The Elements of Style, along with Joseph M. Williams’s book Style Toward Clarity and Grace helped lead me to this point, which is: what is the point?
What really matters when we consider the style of writing? What makes good writing good? Every writer could collectively sit down together and never come up with an answer to these questions because every writer has a different opinion on what matters. As a writer and a reader, I believe what really matters in style is the affect a piece of writing has on readers. Although every reader is different in the way a piece of writing impacts her/him, there is still an unspoken knowledge that all readers want to come away from a piece of writing a changed person, with a challenged view on a subject matter, with a new interest, or a passion for a previously unknown matter. What is the point? The point is that style, no matter how it is presented, needs to have an affect on each and every reader. No writer wants to sit down and hear echoes of their seventh grade English teacher pounding messages of “use correct grammar and punctuation!” or “watch your spelling!” in their brains, restricting them from all creativity. For that
matter, no reader wants to pick up two pieces of writing from two different writers and se...
... middle of paper ...
From these books on style, I’ve learned that the content of the writing is not as important as the presentation of it. If a piece of writing is clear, concise, understandable, and formatted well, a reader will be affected by it. Of course the content is important as well, but the point is no reader will want to give a piece of writing the time of day unless they are attracted to it in the first place. If they are attracted, they will be affected. Style is personal and unique, but style can also follow guidelines which will in turn help a
writer to fulfill her/his purpose and make the life of a reader less complicated and more enjoyable.
Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Longman. 2000.
Williams, Joseph M. Style Toward Clarity and Grace.Chicago:The University of Chicago
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