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Question on an oldie (1 Viewer)


Bert Ward

Anyone out there have, or read, or ever heard of "The Elements of Style," by Struck & White?



Senior Member
It's a book that any aspiring writer, and every serious reader should read. Now. Go... get the book and read it. It would make critiquing your atrocities so much easier.



please tell me i've accidentally stumbled upon a humor thread in disguise? i confess to being brand spanking new here, just today.

<< spit-shines newbie badge<< ;)

but if the op can't even get right the name, as in "strunk", i fear i've waded into a big pile of ...


Senior Member
Strunk and White is useful to a point, but only that. If you have problems with your grammar it's worth having a read, but then so are many of the books on grammar that you can buy in your local bookstore.

My problem with S&W is that novice writers of fiction are introduced to it as some kind of bible - which it very much isn't - and then go around critiquing as though every piece of fiction should be written according to S&W law. This is a crime in itself.




Omnius said:
My problem with S&W is that novice writers of fiction are introduced to it as some kind of bible - which it very much isn't -
methinks the more current problem is that precious few writers are introduced to this book at all. it is called "the elements of...", not "the be-all-end-all-every-last-word-of..."

daily, i'm smacked in the face by folks who don't know the difference between a plural and a possessive. so our written language seems to run amok.

shall we discuss the nun, the pointer and the pluperfect participle?

i fear the creeping tower of babel...

kad barma

STRUNK. strunk, strunk, strunk, strunk, strunk.

here's a link to wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strunk_and_White) from where i've cut and pasted the "approach to style" below. Note the "full text" links at the end of the article, and save your excuses of never having seen or read the book. it's short. it's free. it doesn't have a social disease. read it, and THEN feel free to ignore it.

being first in line to ignore things (like wrapping parenthetical expressions in cossetting commas) in the "rules" section, i'd still point out to anyone having a tough time getting a piece of writing down to their satisfaction that the "approach to style" section can often get you through some tough spots where over-writing cannot.

even that being said, my favorite author, edgar allen poe, regularly flouts at least a dozen (if not more) of the "style" tenets below, and nobody is suggesting that isn't a.o.k. and totally copacetic with the universe. but i bet, if folks spent more time considering the advice given in this tiny little book, they'd improve their writing as well as their confidence in those times when they feel compelled to ignore each and every word in it.


AN APPROACH TO STYLE (With a List of Reminders)

1. Place yourself in the background. 2. Write in a way that comes naturally. 3. Work from a suitable design. 4. Write with nouns and verbs. 5. Revise and rewrite. 6. Do not overwrite. 7. Do not overstate. 8. Avoid the use of qualifiers. 9. Do not affect a breezy manner. 10. Use orthodox spelling. 11. Do not explain too much. 12. Do not construct awkward adverbs. 13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking. 14. Avoid fancy words. 15. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good. 16. Be clear. 17. Do not inject opinion. 18. Use figures of speech sparingly. 19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity. 20. Avoid foreign languages. 21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat.


Senior Member
It's a required textbook for the university course that I started six months ago, and I haven't touched it once yet.

It's just for grammar. There's nothing that book can teach that can't be picked up just from a lifetime of reading. I learned grammar the same way I learned speech - imitation.

Actually, I haven't touched any of my textbooks yet. What a waste of a hundred bucks.