Style

:: 3 Works Cited
Length: 1566 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓
Style


After reading Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, Williams’, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, and my peers’ reviews of these two books, I have come up with an all encompassing answer to the question: what is style, and what elements are most important to all writers?

The answer is: there is no clear cut definition of style. It is ever changing; and is based on society’s views of what makes good writing, not necessarily the writer’s own thoughts on the matter. Therefore, the writer is better off following the set rules of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, determined by society; then adding her own voice.

The actual elements that make up style are a little less vague, but again, it is up to the individual writer to decide which elements to include in her writing—and which to leave out. Strunk and White have listed “Seven rules of usage, eleven principles of composition, a few matters of form, and a list of words and expressions commonly misused.” (Strunk and White) Strunk and White present their list of rules to would-be writers in hopes that they may one day attain what society deems to be style.

Strunk and White’s rule number six: “Do not break sentences in two—in other words, do not use periods for commas,” (Strunk and White) was interesting because I break it often. Before reading Strunk and White, I was under the impression that when you want a sentence to be emphatic, you can clip it, and force the reader to take notice simply by creating a sentence structure that looks unusual to them. This forces the reader to stop and take another look. Strunk and White warn us that this is not proper, and should be attempted by no means, “Less a clipped sentence seem merely a blunder in syntax or punctuation.”

Strunk and White also claim, “As a rule, single sentences should not be written or printed as paragraphs.” Unfortunately, writing single sentence paragraphs once defined my writing. In grade school, I was told the only way to write well was to write exactly as you speak. I just happen to be the type of person that speaks fast, changes subjects often, emphasizes certain groups of words I want my listeners to grab on to, and then (and this is what often saves me from becoming a complete muddle), summarizes what I was saying.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Style." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=25720>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay on The Style of Writing - The Style of Writing According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary, the definition of style is “a characteristic manner of expression”(612). Usually words such as personal, individual, and unique also come to mind when we think of writing style. I have always associated writing style with belonging uniquely to one individual, meaning that everyone had his or her own style. After reading, “Style Toward Clarity and Grace” by Joseph Williams and “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Essays] 1202 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Insights on Style - Insights on Style A writer sits down on his hickory brown leather upholstered chair in a lowered den of a cape-cod house in the country. He slips his bifocals up the ridge of his nose and pulls his typewriter with both arms to a comfortable typing distance. He is now ready to write and write with style. He has in mind that his certain eloquence will provide cohesion, concision and elegance that will be clear and concise so the reader will be able to determine exactly the message he is portraying....   [tags: Style Writing Styles Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1166 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
What is Style? Essay - What is Style. What is style, and how do we know when we have a style that is all our own. This is one thought that I ponder on cloudy dreary days, and when I have nothing better to do than think. In all actuality, do we even have a style we can call our own, or are we a conglomeration of what we like in the people around us. I would like to think I have my own style, but then reality sets in, and I start to realize I'm a clone of all the people I admire, and desire to be like. I has taken me a long time to realize that no matter how hard I tried to be my own person, I was still following in other peoples footsteps....   [tags: Style Personality Individuality Papers] 1971 words
(5.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Growing With Style Essay - Growing With Style Defining writing style is somewhat like describing Big Foot. People study it, and talk about it, they try to enlighten others about it. But when it’s all said and done, you just rely on; “I’ll know it when I see it.” Style is not unique onto ourselves, but I think that we all, either as audience or as writer, have our own interpretation of style. For example, the University of Miami’s Philosophy and Literature Departments hold a Bad Writing Contest that gives mock prizes to the “worst published academic writing” that someone can find (Miami.edu)....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1098 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on What is Style? - What is Style. The overall concept of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and Joseph Williams Style Toward Clarity and Grace is to educate those who wish to better their writing ability. If one wanted to become better at a sport they would research principles of that sport to become a better athlete. Similarly, if one wanted to become a better athlete they would return to the basics in order to make sure that they knew what they were doing. I think that same idea is present in educating oneself to becoming a better writer, a better historian, a better mathematician, a better athlete, a better philosopher, a better linguist, whatever it is that one wants to become better at will involve...   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1044 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Writing Style Essay - Writing Style I hear inner Strunk and White voices of “don’t overwrite”, “write in a way that comes naturally,” and so forth, going through my head. I have visions of endless Williams examples and illustrations on clarity. I see weeks of blog writings flashing through my memory. From all of this, I now own and believe in a firm and personal definition of what style is and what good writing entails. William Strunk and E.B. White’s book The Elements of Style, along with Joseph M. Williams’s book Style Toward Clarity and Grace helped lead me to this point, which is: what is the point....   [tags: Writing Style Styles Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
1332 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Style Controversy Essay - Style Controversy Upon completion of the both stylebooks, Strunk and White and Williams, I have found that style is much more than whatever one sees fit for themselves. This is true at least for essay writing not necessarily creative writing. As with other debated subjects where guidelines are drawn as to what constitutes a good work of art, film, or music, writing has guidelines which good compositions fit into and can therefore be compared and contrasted with other works. That is not to say there is one way to do any essay but there are parameters which must be met and set for a paper to be critiqued....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1288 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Writing Style - Writing Style What is writing style. I started out thinking that writing style is a personal thing and that all writers have their own style. But, this way of thinking is really just a simple way to answer the question. After more careful thought, I realized that style is actually quite the opposite of personal and original. Style is a form of standardization. As writers, we all follow certain rules and guidelines to make our point. Style is these rules and guidelines. For a writer to better understand style, multitudes of books and helpful guides have been published....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
1425 words
(4.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Style Essay - Style I often wonder what style is, and how does a person know when they are in possession of it. Style is one of the many things that seem to change form day to day for me, and I'm never sure where it might lead me. I think we all have our own style, but how can we get away from having the same style that other people have. When I look through magazines, all I read is the same thing over and over, in a little different style, or voice. Then, when I look out the window, I see people dressed in about the same fashions....   [tags: Style Personality Individuality Papers] 1804 words
(5.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about Style - Style After reading Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, Williams’, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, and my peers’ reviews of these two books, I have come up with an all encompassing answer to the question: what is style, and what elements are most important to all writers. The answer is: there is no clear cut definition of style. It is ever changing; and is based on society’s views of what makes good writing, not necessarily the writer’s own thoughts on the matter. Therefore, the writer is better off following the set rules of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, determined by society; then adding her own voice....   [tags: Writing Styles Style Paper]
:: 3 Works Cited
1566 words
(4.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches




I have even taken a college class where the professor taught us to write in this style—saying it grabs the readers attention, is easier to read (or skim, if you’re writing to be published), and centralizes one complete idea. Strunk and White condemn this style, and humorously write, “…let loose the hordes of uninspired scribblers who would one day confuse spontaneity with genius.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, Strunk and White, in my mind, grossly define style as simply following basic grammatical rules—their book is chock full of them. “1) Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s; 2) In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last; 3) Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.” The list goes on, but how can this possibly be all there is to stylish prose? Thankfully we have Williams to play the devil’s advocate. In his book, he too gives his reader a list of grammar rules, but then seems to throw those rules in his reader’s face—in a amusingly, non-offensive way of course.

Williams defines style as the means writers use to make their material interesting to their audience. He goes beyond matters of sentence structure to discuss larger matters of form and organization. Williams believes writing is basically a technical experience, not exactly (but it wouldn’t hurt) a form of art. He even mentions in the preface of his book, “The object of our attention is writing whose success we measure not primarily by the pleasure we derive form it, but by how well it does a job of work. If it gives us a tingle of pleasure, so much the better.” Williams goes even further to claim that most good writers first write for themselves, then revise, and revise again to reach their target audience—“That is the central objective of this book: to show how a writer quickly and efficiently transforms a rough draft [once they have made clear to themselves what ideas, points, and arguments might be available] into a version crafted for the reader.”

All three authors, Strunk, White, and Williams wrote texts on how to teach would-be writers to write with style. But both books are problematic. Neither of them was able to clearly define style, or teach its art to their reader. This is because you can’t teach style (just as you can’t clearly define it). It’s simply something you have or don’t have. No amount of studying style manuals can change that—“The best evidence suggests that students who spend a lot of time studying grammar improve their writing not one bit. In fact, they seem to get worse. On the other hand, there is good evidence that mature writers can change the way they write once they grasp a principled way of thinking about language…different from the kind of grammar some of us remember mastering—or being mastered by” (Williams).

What Strunk, White, and Williams didn’t seem to understand when they began their respective books was that style is in constant fluctuation. Any number of societal changes and cultural shifts can up-turn everything that was once learned about good writing in grade school. But it’s basically left to the writer to drudge through the muck of style advice and find her own voice—her own style, and pray it’s acceptable to society’s standards.

When reading through my classmate’s assignments on the subject of Strunk and White, and Williams, I was at once struck by one thing: after reading these two books and analyzing them, my classmates were now afraid to write—anything! And these are people who obviously at one time loved writing; if not, they wouldn’t be in this level of a college English course.

In her Blog, Patty claims, “For me, the challenge to write clearly and with style is now daunting. There is so much information and direction in these two books alone, that I find it difficult to keep everything in mind as I formulate my thoughts into a clear, readable essay.” Is this what the authors intended when they first picked up their pens and scribbled out the beginning pages of their texts? I think not. The purpose of these advice manuals was simply that, to give advice. Not to be taken literally; word for word.

Truly defining style cannot be done, because everyone has her own idea of what true style encompasses. The very idea that Strunk and White, and Williams could write two books on the same subject that are nearly complete opposites of each other is a testament to this fact. Who is to say what stylish writing is, and what it is not. Obviously education doesn’t make a difference. All three authors were highly educated; and yet, they have different opinions about what creates style. Would this mean there is no such thing as style—it’s all just a matter of opinion? William Strunk and E.B. White would argue no. They believe that there is a finite set of rules a writer must follow in order to achieve what society deems to be “stylish writing.” Any deviation from these rules will result in a garbled muck that is neither stylish nor coherent to readers. It’s the job of any sensible English speaker to inform struggling writers of these rules; and God help those who haven’t learned them yet—“Will [Strunk] felt that the reader was in serious trouble most of time, floundering in a swamp, and that it was the duty of anyone attempting to write English to drain this swamp quickly and get the reader up on dry ground, or at least to throw a rope.”

Williams also felt that most writers were floundering in a swamp, but more so in a swamp of dated grammar advice, and it’s up to the good judgment of educators to pull them out. In effect, his book claims good writers can get away with breaking these dated rules, but novices should avoid “bad” usage at any costs, lest they be considered ignorant by society’s standards—“Until we recognize the arbitrary nature of our judgments, too many of us will take ‘bad’ grammar as evidence of laziness, carelessness, or a low IQ. That belief is not just wrong. It is socially destructive.”

William Strunk, E.B. White, and Joseph Williams have hit on some very interesting points in their books. They each describe their thoughts on how a writer should present her own style to her audience. But in my opinion, a writer should consider these texts as containing helpful hints for “good writing,” rather than a writer’s Bible. Although I cannot claim to have enjoyed reading either of these books, I must admit that after studying them, I have become a more conscientious writer, if not a better one.

Works Cited

Clark, Patty. Patty@Eng328. Blogger. 2003. Pyra Labs. 20 Oct. 2003. http://pattyclark.blogspot.com/.

Strunk Jr., William, and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Longman, 2000.

Williams, Joseph. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.


Return to 123HelpMe.com