Style and its Relationship to Good Writing
Style. It’s a small word that packs a powerful punch, and most writers do not stop to think about what it truly means. Initially, I thought style was a personal element in writing specific to the writer and to change this personalized style of writing was absolutely forbidden. However, through our class exploration of the two style manuals, Style Toward Clarity and Grace and The Elements of Style, this original definition was challenged, and eventually changed based on the compelling evidence.
Contrary to popular belief, style is not specific to one’s writing; it is much more involved than that. This notion of style takes into consideration the reader and the ease of the reading material. So, it is not selfish, it is actually focused on the reader and values the thoughts and considerations of the audience. With this in mind, it is important to apply it personally to one’s own writing by changing the perspective about what you, as the writer, are trying to say and take a step back, critically look at your writing and wonder about how it will affect your audience and what they will walk away with.
Now that there is an understanding about what style actually means, a quick analysis of each text is in order. Both books are style manuals, each with the purpose of educating writers to be better writers. However, their approaches are vastly different, and it’s important to explore each manual to see how, in some cases, they compliment and contradict each other. To better appreciate different teaching techniques and explore which one should be used based on the goals of the writer a study of each of the writing stylebooks is in order.
The first important step in this comparison process is to explore how Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and Joseph M. Williams’ Style Toward Clarity And Grace differ. The most obvious difference is the actual manual layout, such as Strunk and White’s book is a short manual that gives brief answers and is more along the lines of a dictionary, rather than the more involved manual by Williams. Many writers would consider this brevity to be a tremendous advantage as many are looking for some quick instruction to aid in the completion of a serious writing project that has an impending deadline. As I found out through my perusal of class blog spots and came across Michelle McGahey’s reading responses. She considered this aspect of Strunk and White to be a positive one and best sums it up when she writes, “In Strunk and White I thrived on the short, yet concise rules. This brevity is enticing to any professional writer who yearns to know all they can about writing, while also realizing there are only 24 hours in a day.”(McGahey). This short, concise manual is an obvious choice for those who want simple instruction in a short amount of time.
While the brevity of Strunk and White may seem like a wonderful bonus to...