"Telling me to 'Be clear,' " writes Joseph M. Williams in Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, "is like telling me to 'Hit the ball squarely.' I know that. What I don't know is how to do it." If you are ever going to know how to write clearly, it will be after reading Williams' book, which is a rigorous examination of--and lesson in--the elements of fine writing. With any luck, your clear writing will turn graceful, as well. Though most of us, says Williams, would be happy just to write "clear, coherent, and appropriately emphatic prose," he is not content to teach us just that. He also attempts, by way of example, to determine what constitutes elegant writing.
Despite the proliferation of books in this genre, rarely does one feel so confident in one's instructor. Williams is meticulous and exacting, yet never pedantic. Though he agrees with most of his grammarian colleagues that, generally speaking, the active voice is better than the passive or that the ordinary word is preferable to the fancy, Williams is also quick to assert that there's no sense learning a rule "if all we can do is obey it." And he is most emphatic about the absurdity of prescriptions concerning usage (such as, "Never begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction"). Such rules, he says, "are 'violated' so consistently that, unless we are ready to indict for bad grammar just about every serious writer of modern English, we have to reject as misinformed anyone who would attempt to enforce them." --Jane Steinberg
This acclaimed book is a master teacher's tested program for turning clumsy prose into clear, powerful, and effective writing. A logical, expert, easy-to-use plan for achieving excellence in expression, Style offers neither simplistic rules nor endless lists of dos and don'ts. Rather, Joseph Williams explains how to be concise, how to be focused, how to be organized. Filled with realistic examples of good, bad, and better writing, and step-by-step strategies for crafting a sentence or organizing a paragraph, Style does much more than teach mechanics: it helps anyone who must write clearly and persuasively transform even the roughest of drafts into a polished work of clarity, coherence, impact, and personality.
"Buy Williams's book. And dig out from storage your dog-eared old copy of The Elements of Style. Set them side by side on your reference shelf."—Barbara Walraff, Atlantic
"Let newcoming writers discover this, and let their teachers and readers rejoice. It is a practical, disciplined text that is also a pleasure to read."—Christian Century
"An excellent book....It provides a sensible, well-balanced approach, featuring prescriptions that work."—Donald Karzenski, Journal of Business Communication
"Intensive fitness training for the expressive mind."—Booklist
(The college textbook version, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 9th edition, is available from Longman. ISBN 9780321479358.)
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