Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Comparing the Two

If I were to compare Strunk and White's book to Williams, I would easily say that despite the grumpy and doddering old man feel the Strunk and White have, I like their book far better than Williams. Williams is extremely hard to read for me because the way he writes is so incredibly boring. Perhaps that has no merit, but the sentiment of his book seems to touch on the points of clarity and decisive prose, a rule which he breaks in one way or another. For example, Williams opening chapter is all about the history and formation of the English language we know and use today, and how we (the users of English) have our difficulties with grammar and diction because of the convoluted evolutions and amalgamations of the language. This part of the book was interesting in a way, but was wholly unecessary because it does not really get the "bare bones", "just do this" instructions that I liked in Strunk in White. Williams seems to go on and on about this and that before finally getting to the lesson. In William's second chapter, "Clarity", he goes on about three pages with examples of good writing and then analyzes them to show what is clear writing and what is not. Finally, page twenty-one, we get two very direct rules of clear writing: "Readers are likely to feel like they are reading prose that is clear and direct when (1) The subject of the sentences name the cast of characters, and (2) those verbs go with those subjects name the crucial actions those characters are part of".

I would have started with those two rules at the very beginning, then went into one example and analyze that using the two rules I had previously stated. There is no need to go into some sort of academic extrapolation. Please, just give me the lesson. Strunk and White and Williams are trying to do the same thing, but Strunk and White do a far better job.

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