Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Elements of Style...

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Kristin Early, a friend of Mary DeMuth, critiqued an article for me. This particular article is one of the few writing projects that I'm working on to send off to an online magazine. She gave the most helpful advice. I felt like I was a student in an english writing course in college and my professor red-inked my entire essay. Oh Yes! She chopped it up!

Thank goodness I love to be corrected. I believe there's always room for growth and development in an area and I am just very thankful that she took the time and used her writing wisdom and skills to critique my work for me.

She refered me to a book called "The Elements of Style". This book would give helpful writing tips. Those who are very skillful writers can probably point out that even in this post I used more adjectives than verbs and use a lot of "very,
little and rather" words. This, according to "The Elements of Style" is VERY wrong!



Here's what it says in Chapter 5, pg 71

Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place. This is not to disparage adjectives and adverbs; they are indispensable parts of speech. Occassionally they surprise us with their power, as in

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men...

The nouns mountain and glen are accurate enough, but had the mountain not become airy, the glen rushy, William Allingham might never have got off the ground with his poem. In general, however, it is nouns and verbs, not their assistants, that give good writing its toughness and color.


Here is another interesting tip that I found to be extremely helpful:

Avoid the use of qualifiers:

Rather, very, little, pretty- these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. The constant use of the adjective little (except to indicate size) is particularly debilitating; we should all try to do a little better, we should all be very watchful of this rule, for it is a rather important one, and we are pretty sure to violate it now and then.

I'll post more interesting and fascinating tips from this book before I bring it back to the library. In fact, I just may purchase it...

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