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Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art…
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Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing (1975)

by John R. Trimble

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I enjoyed reading Writing With Style but I'm at a loss to understand why, especially since many parts of it weren't particularly helpful to me.

Two-thirds of the book deals with college (or perhaps advanced high-school) students writing essays. None of the examples branch out into workplace memos or reports, or even fiction writing. Certainly, the tips given can absolutely be expanded to those sorts of writing projects, but this book doesn't mention that.

Much of the discussion relates to one of the "fundamental" rules he gives: "Tinker to get the words right." But this is often an impossibility, especially for beginners. It's similar to when I tried -- and failed -- to learn how to drive stick-shift. There's a particular "feeling" you get when you know exactly when to shift to another gear -- but you can only obtain that knowledge after much practice. Likewise, it's hard for beginning writers to know "that sounds good" at first, because they just don't have the feel for what should sound good.

The final third of the book offers rules of grammar and punctuation. The rules given are quite clear, but there are too few examples, and no skill sets to practice with. (Thanks, Trimble; Fowler would have made me say there are no skill sets with which to practice.)

Ultimately, this is a strange little book. It's clearly meant for college-level composition classes, yet it doesn't offer any essay questions or workbook-style practices. It's still a very good read for any type of writer because it does contain many valuable tips, and it's short enough that non-college-age readers won't mind the academic focus.

----------------------
LT Haiku:

"Books on writing tend
to be windy [and] boring":
This one is different! ( )
  legallypuzzled | Nov 17, 2013 |
Really good book. Of all the writing books I've read this is by far the most insightful. It isn't long or laborious either. ( )
  angus.macdonald | Jan 25, 2011 |
Writing with Style has been around for almost 35 years, but this Silver Anniversary edition remains relevant and fresh. Trimble teaches concise lessons, replete with examples, in thinking well, readability, punctuation, quoting, and so on. In the opening chapter, he establishes an appealing thesis: a novice writer, unaware of the social implications of what he's doing, writes unconsciously, "like a person who turns his chair away from the
listener[and] mumbles at length to the wall." A thoughtful writer, on the other hand, draws upon objectivity, empathy, and courtesy, because he knows that "good writing is good manners." ( )
  joshberg | Dec 5, 2009 |
Amazon Book Description :: A storehouse of practical writing tips, written in a lively, conversational style. Readers lean to develop a “writer's sense”: the book demonstrates that writing is really applied psychology since it is essentially the art of creating desired effects. Provides an explanation of what effects are desirable and how to create them. An exceptional book that works successfully on several levels simultaneously. Provides new insight into: how to generate interesting ideas and get them down on paper; how to write a critical analysis; how to write a crisp opener; how to invigorate a banal style; how to punctuate with confidence; how to handle various conventions, and much more. For anyone who needs a reference guide on writing.
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  leese | Nov 23, 2009 |
This is an interesting, thought-provoking book that leads you toward better writing without driving you crazy in the process. Annotated examples help the instruction here.
  AlexTheHunn | Nov 2, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
The book is exactly as Trimble described when I wrote to him and asked him to tell me how it came about: "a book with all the water squished out but with all the life left in."
 
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Epigraph
Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.

JOHN UPDIKE
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one tuns, as it were instinctively, to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish, squirting out ink.

GEORGE ORWELL
The indispensable characteristic of a good writer is a style marked by lucidity.
HEMINGWAY
And how is clarity to be achieved? mainly by taking trouble; and by writing to serve people rather to impress them.
F. L. LUCAS
A writer's job is sticking his neck out.
SLOAN WILSON
Dedication
For Judy, with gratitude
First words
About a year ago a bright sophomore came by my office for his first writing conference of the term. (Introduction)
Books on writing tend to be windy, boring and impractical.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
"Books on writing tend

to be windy [and] boring":

This one is different!

(legallypuzzled)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0130257133, Paperback)

A storehouse of practical writing tips, written in a lively, conversational style. Readers lean to develop a “writer's sense” : the book demonstrates that writing is really applied psychology since it is essentially the art of creating desired effects. Provides an explanation of what effects are desirable and how to create them. An exceptional book that works successfully on several levels simultaneously. Provides new insight into: how to generate interesting ideas and get them down on paper; how to write a critical analysis; how to write a crisp opener; how to invigorate a banal style; how to punctuate with confidence; how to handle various conventions, and much more. For anyone who needs a reference guide on writing.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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