Key Elements of Good Writing Style

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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.

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A writer’s voice is created by this personal application of specific rules and general suggestions. This is what the reader hears in his “mind’s ear” (Williams 157). When I compare my 15 year-old son’s writing style to my 13 year-old daughter’s, I can hear my son’s you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do attitude as well as I can hear my daughter’s a-to-do-list-a-day structured personality. Strunk and White write, “…what you are…will…determine your style” (84). Where Does Usage Fit In?

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The Elements of Style. Needham Heights. Allyn & Bacon, 2000. Williams, Joseph M. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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