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Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by…

Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

by Joseph M. Williams

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281258,450 (4.13)5



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I picked up this book for an editing class, but after finishing the reading assignment, I devoured the rest. I've read a lot of writing and style manuals in my time, and this one is very different--and I think, much more practically useful--than any other one I've read. The principles are simple, elegant, and easy to internalize, but once you start applying them to your writing, or the work that you're editing, they result in instant and vast improvement. This techniques given here are intended primarily for writers of nonfiction--particularly academics and their ilk--but I think they could be applied to any kind of writing. I will say with certainty that this is a terrific manual for cutting through bureaucratic, pedantic writing that I think we're all way too familiar with. Finally, the last chapter analyzing Thomas Jefferson's pronoun choices in the Declaration of Independence from an ethical point of view was fascinating. I cannot recommend this book enough to writers and editors. ( )
1 vote sturlington | Dec 7, 2017 |
I have a weakness for books about writing. Joseph Williams’ “Style: the basics of clarity and grace” is the shortest book on the topic I have read and, most importantly, is the best source for “nuts and bolts” writing instruction I have found. The book is an abbreviated version of Williams’ “Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace”. At the risk of hurting book sales, I do not see the need for a more detailed explanation than what is in this little, 150 page, book.

Williams first takes on the rules of grammar by pointing out that many of them are, in his words, folklore. He finds amazing examples to disprove these false rules. My favorite is for “You can not modify an absolute”, for which he quotes “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union” With grammar covered Williams turns to the mechanics of writing. As simply and directly as possible he explains how to create clear and effective sentences, as well as paragraphs that guides the reader through the paper and to more complex ideas.

This book has earned a place in easy reach of my desk and I see it becoming dog eared from use.
  TLCrawford | May 20, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0321330854, Paperback)

Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace reflects the wisdom and clear authorial voice of Williams best-selling book, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, while streamlining every chapter to create a very brief, yet powerfully direct guide to writing with style. The brevity and clarity of this book make it a quick and ideal read for freshman composition courses, as well as for writing courses across the disciplines. Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace covers the elemental principles of writing that will help students diagnose their prose quickly and revise it effectively. The ten lessons feature principles of effective prose written in William's hallmark conversational style, offering reason-based approaches, rather than hard and fast rules, for successful, effective writing.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:32 -0400)

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