Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fifty Years of Simplicity As Style

Here's another discussion of the great classic writing guide "The Elements of Style." (I blogged about the book's 50th anniversary here.)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style," and lately I've been thinking it would be fun if both authors could come back to life, at least long enough to mark the occasion and to give us their thoughts on the proliferating varieties of written communication we've crammed into our lives in recent years. A friend of mine suggests that as soon as they got a close look at the current situation—the flurry of texting, tweeting, IMing and Facebook chatting, much of it speed-thumbed while steering with the forearms—Strunk and White's next move would be to form a suicide pact.

Maybe. I think it's more likely that they might just shrug, resolve to stay off the roads, and settle back over chilled martinis to reminisce about their Cornell days. Strunk and White, both reasonable, good-humored men, would recognize that texting, tweeting, emailing and the rest are simply conversation: the "rules-free, lower-case flow that keeps us cheerfully in touch these days," as White's stepson, the well-known New Yorker writer Roger Angell, writes in the foreword to the current edition of "The Elements of Style."

For all of my Twitter and Facebook friends who are students, PR and marketing gurus, if you haven't snagged yourself a copy of this book, don't wait. Do so now and apply its principles and watch your writing improve immediately. (And for those of you who already have this book on your bookshelf, I guess I'm preaching to the choir. Sorry. But you agree with me about the book's usefulness for improving the craft of writing, don't you? Yeah, I knew you did.)

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