Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the elements of style

Happy *almost* Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all have a great holiday this week. Truly, we have much to give thanks for. This morning I read a passage from 1 Peter 1, and while it has nothing to do with today’s post, I found it highly relevant (considering that Thanksgiving is just around the corner!):

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Need I elaborate? If there’s anything in our world worth celebrating, this is it!


And now, our post. :-)

Have you ever read The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr? If not, you may want to consider buying it. It’s short, concise, and practical, and covers the basics of English grammar, style, and composition. Unlike other grammar textbooks, however, The Elements of Style is not only clear and readable but downright enjoyable! The author has an engaging style and knows the virtue of brevity. Even if you are not fond of style and grammar, consider that all writers must work with the same material – that is, language. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely through the written word is an essential tool for any serious writer, and The Elements of Style is an excellent guide and resource for writers at any level.

Interested? You can read it or skim it online: http://www.bartleby.com/141/.

That said, let me share one of my favorite passages from The Elements of Style. This is absolutely essential to good writing, and if you apply this principle to your own work consistently, your writing skills will truly improve:

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

A word to the wise – it would be a very good idea to skim through The Elements of Style while proofreading your manuscripts for the contest. This little book discusses many of the grammatical and stylistic errors that A Call to Pens entrants have committed in past competitions. While your story won’t be disqualified for a simple error, it does factor in. So do stay on top of things!

That’s all for now. Have a great Thanksgiving!

No comments:

Post a Comment