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No! It's vastly overrated. I mean, it's a fun read, and E.B. White is himself a wonderful writer, but it is not the best text for writing by any means. What sorts of reference/tutorial books are you looking for? What have you already got?
I haven't got any real writing references. I just want to write properly and tersely.
I figured that pocket-sized book might be of some use.
Go instead for _Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace_ or the briefer _Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace_, by Joseph Williams.
Check out this review of _The Elements of Style_ -- http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497
Ouch; I thought The Elements of Style was THE reference for folks who need to learn to trim their writing.
Yes, well it is much touted as being that.
Nothing against E.B. White. He is a superb stylist. His own writing ignores much of the advice of the book, which he revised from a book one of his own teachers had written to teach his classes.
I think I shall go for Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (or the Basic version) once I toss strunk and white back to the free bin I found it in.
Well, no, don't toss it away! It has some fun bits. Just don't follow it slavishly. Don't look to it for consistent, precise advice.
Don't use it as your teacher.
What are the good bits of The Elements of Style?
It's written in an engaging style. The longer essay-like passages can be fun to read. You might even pick up a few good pointers. Not all of the advice is good. Not all of it is consistent. The treatment overall is not complete. It will not do as a textbook.
I really like its tiny size though; reminds me of the C programming language book, which is not only THE reference for ANSI C, but is also a handy reference book.
Yes, it's a lovely size. :)
Read Geoffrey Pullman's very excellent review of the book and then see what you think. But do pick up one of the two Williams books and study it.
If only my high school textbooks were as tiny as strunk and white :(
Would Strunk and White deserves space in my pocket as a handy reference?
Read Pullman's review and you decide. You need to understand its biases and limitations if you're to use it well. Otherwise, it will lead you down the wrong path on many points. Or be just plain unhelpful.
Right. I'll check out the reviews for the Clarity and Grace books as well
I know there are reviews out there, but I can't seem to find them now. You might try this one, from a prof over at Berkeley (he's not in the writing department) -- http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/econ_articles/reviews/williams.html I can tell you that it is THE book a developmental editor I know uses to teach novice editors how to edit.
I should clarify: he uses the first book, but that's the longer, denser version without exercises. The editor-teacher supplies those. For your purposes, you'd want one of the other two.
Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway is one of my favorite books one writing. It's not pocket sized, but it covers poetry, stort story,and play writing quite well with lots of exercises and tips. It's an easy and entertaining read with lot's of examples from other authors to illustrate the mechanics that are being discussed in the chapters.
I don't know that one! I'll have to check it out . . .
It was my textbook for ENG495.I'm glad I took that course because I likely would have never discovered the book. :)