I only recently heard of The Elements of Style. Quickly assuming it was going to be a big volume of rules – sort of like those giant wedding etiquette books that people thrust on you after an engagement – I rolled my eyes at the thought of consuming another how-to-write book. I’d read my fill of those in college. But going through my husband’s small bookshelf a few months back, I found this 1970’s edition once belonging to his father and was delighted by its size! I flipped through the yellowed, highlighted pages, then quietly placed it in my pile of books to read.
So far, there are all these delightful moments of personality and judgement that make me laugh at their abruptness. This rule, for example: “Meaningful. A bankrupt adjective. Choose another, or rephrase.” Ooops! I use that word quite a bit, in fact, it was in this post until I edited it out!
A short paragraph on the word irregardless finally puts to rest a dispute between the students in my sophomore U.S. History class and the teacher – who insisted on using it. The teacher was wrong. And below some of the rules, Strunk & White have listed helpful examples that reminded me of SAT language questions. Which sentence is more correct?
While the book is incredibly concise (as the authors intended), it still hits home with choice lessons. Rule #17: Omit needless words. Seems like a rather obvious rule, until you pick through your writing and realize how many words say nothing. Suffice to say, I’m practicing getting to the point.