Writing Style

Writing Style

Length: 1134 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Writing Style


When constructing a piece of writing, a student may sometimes find herself struggling to remember grammar rules or style principles. A handy reference guide would help her out immensely. William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s book, The Elements of Style, and Joseph Williams’ book, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, assist writers improve their work in various ways. Strunk and Whites’ book took a simple approach, while Williams went more in-depth, with elaborate explanations and varying choices for each writing style.

Strunk and White’s approach was directed towards basic principles of composition, elementary rules and a general approach to style. Each principle was stately plainly, but without much explanation. Rules were meant to be strictly followed, and not questioned. They weren’t hard to follow, but some did seem unhelpful. An example is Strunk and Whites’ rule about not using the word “nature”; they believe that “the reader cannot tell whether the poems have to do with natural scenery, rural life, the sunset, the untracked wilderness, or the habits of squirrels” (53). This rule seems strange to me. Nature doesn’t need to be that structured. But, possibly the odd aspects of this book are connected to the date it was written.

Strunk and White’s book was first published in 1935, and revised over the years. But, somehow the book hasn’t grasped the idea of change. The book seems to still be stuck in 1935; for instance, some of the examples refer to Moses and Isis. As we discussed in class, this seems fairly outdated. I’m ashamed to say I’m even unaware of who Isis is. Strunk and White also warn against using the phrase “the foreseeable future”, stating it is “a cliché, and a fuzzy one…How much of the future is foreseeable?...By whom is it foreseeable?” (Strunk and White 59). I don’t quite understand this rule; it seems old-fashioned to advise against referring to the future. It seems useless and unnecessary to state.

Other principles in Strunk and Whites’ book were useless, as well. One rule describes the use of the word “clever”. Strunk and White claim that “the word means one thing when applied to people, another when applied to horses. A clever horse is a good-natured one, not an ingenious one” (Strunk and White 43). I may seem picky, but this just seems ridiculous. How often is a person going to write about a clever horse?

Not only were many principles in Strunk and Whites’ book useless, but many were also vague and unclear.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Writing Style." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jul 2018
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=25569>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Writing Style is Important

- Writing Style is Important Before expounding on the elements and forms of style, there are two main questions that should be asked: What is style, and why should one be concerned with it. In answer to the first question, I believe that style is choice. One’s style is determined by the types of words he chooses, and the diction with which he displays them. A style can be casual or formal, simple or verbose; every time an author writes something, he is making decisions on how he wants to present his information....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Research Papers
1388 words (4 pages)

Writing Style is Important Essay

- Writing Style is Important Contrary to popular conceptions of the term ‘style’, I have found that in the context of this class, as well as in the context of the books “Style Toward Clarity and Grace” by Joseph M. Williams and “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White, that ‘style’ is not style in the sense that it is the way I write (in such as way as ‘everyone has their own unique style’). Style encompasses many elements to writing a cohesive, clear paper. However, I feel that in order to write a clear cohesive essay or paper, I must write in my own way, a way that I am familiar with....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Research Papers
1152 words (3.3 pages)

Key Elements of Good Writing Style Essay

- Key Elements of Good Writing Style After reading William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style and Joseph M. Williams’ Style: Beyond Clarity and Grace, participating in hours of classroom discussion, and writing five short essays on the topic, I’m struck by the complexity of evaluating “writing style”. But I don’t know why I should be amazed. Borne from the elaborate human thought process, we instinctively dress up our writing in thrift-store duds or Fifth Avenue couture. Writing styles express our individuality; they are our language fingerprints – the writer’s identity is exposed, and no two styles are exactly alike....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Free Essays
1182 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Good Writing Style

- The Elements of Style written by William Strunk and E.B. White, and Style: Toward Clarity and Grace written by Jospeh Williams both offer suggestions for establishing the comprehensive application of literary techniques and style. Each book, constructed differently, focuses on various areas of writing through comprehensive basic rules and guidelines. These books specifically identify the basic foundation for writing rules of usage, principle composition and offer suggestions for different types of style approach....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Research Papers
1550 words (4.4 pages)

Defining Writing Style Essay

- Defining Writing "Style" Many accomplished authors have tried distinguishing what "good writing style" is. Some believe it is writing simply, others believe it is writing precisely. Numerous books have been published in order to help define this murky area called "style." Matthew Arnold, poet and critic, once said "Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style." So why then is this topic so unclearly defined. Perhaps it is because each person has had different writing influences and needs improvement in different areas....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Free Essays
1340 words (3.8 pages)

Defining Writing Style Essay

- Defining Style In a search for the meaning of true style, I consulted two books on the subject. These texts differ on many levels, but most strikingly are their styles of presentation. Strunk and White, authors of The Elements of Style, lean more towards the rule-book approach, telling us what to do and when to do it without much explanation. John Williams, on the other hand, uses his book Style: Toward Clarity and Grace in almost a lecture form, filled with comparative examples of correct and incorrect ways to approach his stylistic suggestions....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Free Essays
1329 words (3.8 pages)

Writing Style Essay

- Writing Style 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....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Research Papers
1332 words (3.8 pages)

Writing Style Essay

- Writing Style When constructing a piece of writing, a student may sometimes find herself struggling to remember grammar rules or style principles. A handy reference guide would help her out immensely. William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s book, The Elements of Style, and Joseph Williams’ book, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, assist writers improve their work in various ways. Strunk and Whites’ book took a simple approach, while Williams went more in-depth, with elaborate explanations and varying choices for each writing style....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]

Free Essays
1134 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on The Style of Writing

- The Style of Writing According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary, the definition of style is “a characteristic manner of expression”(612). Usually words such as personal, individual, and unique also come to mind when we think of writing style. I have always associated writing style with belonging uniquely to one individual, meaning that everyone had his or her own style. After reading, “Style Toward Clarity and Grace” by Joseph Williams and “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Essays]

Free Essays
1202 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Writing Style

- Writing Style What is writing style. I started out thinking that writing style is a personal thing and that all writers have their own style. But, this way of thinking is really just a simple way to answer the question. After more careful thought, I realized that style is actually quite the opposite of personal and original. Style is a form of standardization. As writers, we all follow certain rules and guidelines to make our point. Style is these rules and guidelines. For a writer to better understand style, multitudes of books and helpful guides have been published....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Essays]

Research Papers
1425 words (4.1 pages)

Related Searches

In the section about style, they state plainly “Be clear.” They go on to explain that “…since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue” (Strunk and White 79). Even though that makes perfect sense, they decided to intensify their argument by saying “Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, of hope…Think of the tragedies that are rooted in ambiguity, and be clear!” (Strunk and White 79). Whoa! This seems a little drastic for the subject we’re dealing with. It also doesn’t even explain how to be clear. Why state a rule if it’s not going to be explained?

Even though I didn’t quite relate to Strunk and Whites’ book, some students did appreciate the simplicity of it. Some students referred to this book as a handy reference guide. I agree, but not for students at college level. The rules in this book are far too basic and vague for experienced writers.

Williams, in a way, picked up where Strunk and White left off. Instead of simply stating a rule, Williams explained it in full detail and described how to adapt it to one’s writing. Just by browsing through the chapter titles, (clarity, cohesion, coherence, concision) one can tell how thorough the book is. Williams states why rules exist and why they are important. He says that “a good ear will serve you better than a flat rule” (Williams 127). He wants the reader to be able to critique their own writing in a constructive manner.

I particularly found the section on concision to be the most helpful for me. I often find myself overstating ideas and muddling my writing with extra words. I suffer from redundancy; probably because I have a fear of not including enough information for assignments. The strict rules of high school are still with me; I still hit the “recount words” button frequently- just to check my length. But, I feel that strictness is hindering my progress as a writer. I’m trying to see the bigger picture of my writing; by focusing on Williams rules, I’m realizing what steps I can take to break myself out of the cycle of redundancy.

Williams also touched upon some helpful ideas about managing the beginning and ends of sentences for emphasis. “If you begin a sentence well, the end will almost take care of itself” (Williams 67). Williams puts importance on the climactic rhythm of a sentence. He feels that the less important information should be located at the beginning of a sentence, while the most important information should be at the end. Both parts of the sentence are crucial for making it clear and coherent. Furthermore, Williams gave valuable advice on how to relay complex information, perhaps that is entirely unfamiliar to the reader. He recommends designing the sentence where the unfamiliar term (the most important information) is at the end of the sentence, for better understanding.

Williams didn’t just believe in stating plain rules, he believed in originality. He felt that the simplicity of plain prose seemed flat and dry. He explained that “sometimes a touch of class, a flash of elegance, can mark the difference between forgettable Spartan prose and an idea so elegantly expressed that it fixes itself in the mind of your reader” (Williams 153). Writing takes imagination and skill, not just the ability to write grammatically correct.

A writer wants to get his message across; this is established the easiest when the writing is developed in a clear manner with an eloquent style. The writer desires to make that message last more than two seconds after it is read. The Elements of Style, in my opinion, is a great learning tool for writers at a high school, or lower, level. For style rules at a more experiences level, Style: Toward and Clarity and Grace, is a great choice. Not only will the reader get current principles laid out in plain English, but he/she will also know why these principles are important. These aspects ensure that the reader will be able to learn these new principles and adapt them to their writing.


Works Cited

Strunk Jr., William, and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Longman,

2000.

Williams, Joseph. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: The University of

Chicago Press, 1990.
Return to 123HelpMe.com