September 25, 2006

is style so elemental?

Style is an increment in writing. When we speak of Fitzgerald's style, we don't mean his command of the relative pronoun, we mean the sound his words make on paper. All writers, by the way they use the language, reveal something of their spirits, their habits, their capacities, and their biases. This is inevitable as well as enjoyable. All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation–it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito.
Elements of Style (Illustrated Edition), p. 98


my first test in my Worship & Preaching 1 Course is over The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. does anyone remember having to read this in High School Composition? with the age of the interweb, I'm sure most of us have thrown out so many of Strunk and White's rules that we deserve failing grades for our writing habits. I have to admit that I split infinitives, place punctuation improperly, and use words like "very," "mostly," and "really" too many times.

but does this mean that I don't have my own sense of style in writing? I believe that things like email and blogging have actually allowed me to develop my own voice out of the shear volume of writing that I have to do. I mean, how do you really show a tone of voice in an email? or express sarcasm?

as I get to the point that I have things to say that are more than mere regurgitation for papers and exams, I feel that the way that I write is just as important in regards to what I write. writing however you feel is no excuse for poor grammar, especially if you want more people than just your friends to read what you write.

having to read this again was a fun yet frightening trip down memory lane. does anyone cringe the way that I still do at the substitution of "their" for "they're" or possibly "there"?

(the above image may seem strange. it is an illustration from the Elements of Style's rule #20. which is better? "He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center" or "He noticed a large stain right in the center of the rug.")

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