Monday, August 27, 2007

Writing Tip of the Week

Rereading The Elements of Style has been a rewarding experience. I don't know why I love this book so much--but it is a wonderful (and funny!) guide to style. I kept reading snippets of it out loud to Lance as we drove home from our weekend. So here's the tip of the week:
6. Do not overwrite
Rich ornate prose is hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating. If the sickly-sweet word, the overblown phrase are your natural form of expression, as is sometimes the case, you will have to compensate for it by a show of vigor, and by writing something as meritorious as the Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.
When writing with a computer, you must guard against wordiness. The click and flow of a word processor can be seductive, and you may find yourself adding a few unnecessary words or even a whole passage just to experience the pleasure of running your fingers over the keyboard and watching your words appear on the screen. It is always a good idea to reread your writing later and ruthlessly delete the excess.
I love White's description of being seduced by the keyboard. I know that I'll often add another sentence to a paragraph because I want the paragraph to look a certain way on the screen--silly, I know, but I usually edit everything viciously (because of Reminder 5).

I also learned something that I didn't realize when I took the grammar mastery test about the construction "one of those [NOUN] who"--you must use the plural form of the verb with it. I think that answers the only thing I missed.

1 comment:

Justin Ray said...

That writing tip is going to make me very nervous...