Saturday, September 03, 2011

Saturday Solicitations: The Elements of Style

All of the Saturday Solicitations this month are about writing. To start the month off, we have The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This is a very small book but it is remarkable. The first edition was written by Strunk in 1918. He privately published the 40-ish page book for use at Cornell University. Since 1918, it has been revised and republished many times but the core of Strunk's work is still there. White, a former student of Strunk's, revised The Elements of Style in 1959. The resulting expansion and modernization of "the little book" became informally known as Strunk & White.

I first learned of Strunk & White when I started writing for National Novel Writing Month in 2009. I don't recall any high school or college English teacher bringing it up or listing it on the suggested reading lists. I'm not really sure why. In my opinion, it should be one of the single most used texts in any composition class. I have the 4th edition paperback from 2000 and it has become incredibly worn in just a couple years. I have seen multiple "big name" writers tout the awesomeness that is this book but for my life I can't remember who.
The 4th edition is 105 pages long plus a 2.5 page Table of Contents, 2 page Foreword by Roger Angell (White's stepson), and 6 page Introduction from White. The font is small and there is a lot of information crammed inside, but it is really good information. 

Like me, many writers were not English majors in college and it has been years since high school English. The first section of this book is Elementary Rules of Usage. There are 11 rules. The other sections are Elementary Principles of Composition, A Few Matters of Form, Words and Expressions Commonly Misused, and An Approach to Style. Also, an afterword, glossary, and index start at page 87. Most writing rules are fairly timeless so I don't consider my 11 year old book to be outdated like modern text books. I could definitely use an updated Words and Expressions Commonly Misused, but I think that is more due to the evolution or rather the decline of the English language. I blame texting and all of the internet for this.

I highly recommend this little book to anyone that likes writing but has issues with editing. If you can commit the contents to memory, then editing will be much less of a nightmare.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS


Booksteve said...

Was looking for my copy the other day. Did I give it to you by chance? Seems like maybe I gave it to someone.

I know I gave you that software disc (which I'm betting you forgot to bring back) but not sure on the book.

Dee said...

Son of a... I knew I forgot to pack something. Crap. I won't be back up here until December so I'll have to mail it if you need it before then. Ugh. Sorry. :(

I don't think you gave me your copy of TEoS. The one I have I got in 2009 at the end of November "Thank God It's Over" party.