For this assignment our class was required to read a style book written by Strunk and White, called “The Elements of Style”. Despite the complaining, I think this was a smart assignment to begin the evaluation of our personal writing styles. The point of reading style books is to make you think about our own writing. I proved my argument two sentences ago when I removed extra words and changed words around to add more clarity. Writing has many categorized rules and it has standards that are expected to be followed. When writing follows the rules it is easier to understand and easier to enjoy. Sadly, if the rules were always followed our language would be extremely formal and there would be no casual “conversation”, only strict formality and standardization across the population.
Strunk and White’s style book will be useful to me as a student, a writer, and a future English teacher. Before this assignment I trusted my “Hodge’s Harbrace Handbook” with for my writing success, thanks to my wonderful 121 Composition Professor I had Freshman year. Now, it will taking the back burner to Strunk and White. “The Elements of Style” is much more organized because it is divided into broad categories that make the researching much more convenient and easier. I enjoyed the bold text to represent the “lessons” because it makes them eye-catching and almost seem more interesting.
I have a tendency to write very casually and to use more words than necessary. Strunk and White say to omit needless words because, “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words…for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” (23) The examples for this mini-lesson are very clear and are prime examples of why it is not recommended.
One of the questions we addressed in our discussion groups in class was about the book being dated culturally and historically. I found that the use of the word bed-chamber in the hyphenating examples dated the book simply because that word is rarely used in current times. The other interesting “element” that dates the book is the lesson about using they, he or she. Strunk and White suggest to use “he” by default. “The use of he as a pronoun for nouns embracing both genders is a simple, practical convention rooted in the beginnings of the English language.” (60) Modern writers may find that to be limiting or offensive to the females of the world. To me, it seems old-fashioned and generic.