Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday Reviews - The Elements of Style

I'm proud to turn this week's review over to Mary Denman. She's a fellow writer and dear friend and always knows the best writing books! Thanks, Mary.

How useful could a writing book published in 1913 be? Especially one that’s only 85 pages long and could fit in your back pocket or purse. In the case of The Elements of Style, the answer is incredibly useful.

William Strunk originally wrote and published the book for English classes he taught. He proudly called it “the little book.” Why? Because he had distilled the rules of the English language down to a manageable size.

Millions of copies later, we can still learn from the master. He first covers elementary rules of usage—which we all need to review. Remember gerunds? Maybe not, but you still use them. Strunk shows you how to use them properly.

Then come the principles of composition. He teaches about active vs. passive voice, when negatives are stronger than positives, and how to make your words stronger.

Included is a section on misused words and expressions. This section alone will keep you from making mistakes that catch an editor’s eye. Need to learn about developing your own style? An approach to style is the section for you.

Still not sold on the value? The book is loaded with concise examples that demonstrate what he means. You could pay hundreds of dollars for a professional to edit your manuscript. Why not buy this book first? It’s an interesting read and the benefits to your writing will immediate and tangible.

The difference between good writing and great writing is in the details. While this book doesn’t cover plotting a novel, it will help you polish your manuscript or article, eliminating both subtle and glaring mistakes. And that makes this book a gold mine, where you can expect to glean nuggets of style from the first time you pick up this little book.

Mary Denman, a home-schooling mom with 5 kids, has been married to her college sweetheart Todd for 22 years. She began writing professionally a few years ago and has published articles in several magazine, including Focus on Your Child, by Focus on the Family. She’s also a published freelance photographer. She has finished her first novel for young adults and is well into the second book of the series.

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