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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 . While the Strunk and White text is smaller and therefore seems to be the better read by default, its guidelines and helpful hints tend to be vague and often contradictory.
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There are several aspects of creating clear prose besides using subjects and verbs. What types of verb used and using that type throughout are also important. What form should writers use, active or passive? I prefer the passive form because it allows more freedom in using figurative language. Williams accepts the use of either form, but cautions against frivolous use of the passive.
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Works Cited Strunk, William Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements of Style. New York: Longman, 2000. Williams, Joseph M., Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: The U of Chicago Press.
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Each author makes a point to cover the most important issues involved in defining style. This kind of writing may appeal to students who need clearly defined writing parameters but may not appeal to the more accomplished writer.
Advice on writing includes how the rules can be applied to make a person’s writing stronger. Using books such as Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and Joseph M. Williams’ Style: Toward Clarity and Grace would definitely be a good start if a writer wanted to help their writing by accumulating more advice on how to have good style.
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 ”. Considering both the audience and the writer, I’ve summarized five significant components of good writing sty...
Strunk and Whites’ book took a simple approach , while Williams went more in-depth, with elaborate explanations and varying choices for each writing style . When constructing a piece of writing, a student may sometimes find herself struggling to remember grammar rules or style principles.
Since these elements and rules are common to all writing, then style and good writing bring forth new meanings .” . If we were to use these phrases today in our educational or professional writing, our audience would probably not view this as clear writing.
Standard books mainly address belletristic or journalistic writing. Just because you know how to make every sentence you write grammatically correct, each paragraph flow flawlessly into one another doesn’t mean you a. have a point or b. have style.
Strunk and White and Williams have taught me a lot about the importance of writing stylistically; more specifically, writing clearly, concisely, and making sure I have a point to my writing. Before I read these two books, I thought I knew what writing with style was.
They believe that style is important because it affects the readers’ ability to understand and enjoy writing. The second question, why should we be concerned with style, is answered in the books The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, and Style Toward Clarity and Grace, by Joseph Williams.
For example, the University of Miami’s Philosophy and Literature Departments hold a Bad Writing Contest that gives mock prizes to the “worst published academic writing” that someone can find (Miami.edu). Showing style is how you prove that you not only write a lot, but that you read a lot as well.
I’m not necessarily sure that good writing style is something which can simply be taught, but that it is somewhat possessed internally, or comes naturally. The information provided also compels the average writer toward the necessary elements of the writing process through various methods of grammar, punctuation, and style implications.
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