Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chew, Spit, and Discard

There are a lot of books written about how to write. Theories and concepts about writing fiction and non-fiction will be around for a long time. Especially since so many of the theories disagree with each other.

But the simple truths about writing clear and precise prose are well agreed upon. We all know what little manual we should read and follow because it contains the best advice on how to express ourselves. After a dictionary and a thesaurus there's one book everyone should read and follow right? We can all agree on grammar and basic style right?

Wrong. It may be over 50 years old and a mainstay on how to write but The Elements of Style is not beyond very pointed criticism. And valid criticism if you ask me. Take a gander at 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice.

If Strunk and White aren't a good resource... what should we use to inform the next 50 years of prose writers? What should we use to inform ourselves?


Lene Andersen said...

Oh, thank god (or you, rather, as you're the one who put the link out there). I've always felt vaguely bad about never having read this book, as if it somehow prevented me from being a better writer. And now I feel all liberated!

Janet said...

Well since english is my first language I received very little formal grammar training. If I wanted to check my grammar, I asked students who went though ESL. They were actually taught grammar. But nice to know I don't need to bother!