Struck and White
October 28, 2004
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Geoff Pullum has a great anti-Struck and White rant, which he says is:
a horrid little compendium of unmotivated prejudices (don’t use ongoing), arbitrary stipulations (don’t begin a sentence with however), and fatuous advice (“Be clear”), ridiculously out of date in its positions on appropriate choices among grammatical variants, deeply suspect in its style advice and grotesquely wrong in most of the grammatical advice it gives.
Struck and White was (I think) the first book on writing style I ever read, and I fell in love–mostly, I think, because of White’s introductory essay. The advice “Omit needless words” and “Use the active voice” might be fatuous and arbitrary. Still, when I take the time to ask: Is this word needed? and “Should I be using the passive voice here?” my writing is clearer. And White told me something I didn’t know: that writing and reading can be a beautiful thing.