I love "The Elements of Style," a.k.a. Strunk and White after its authors. I have a hardback copy, having worn out two paperbacks.
But now I'm enjoying reading the new style guide in town, "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century" by Steven Pinker (Viking Penguin, 2014).
Pinker is chairman (the book jacket reads "chair," but shows his face) of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary. As he writes on page 6 of "The Sense of Style,"
"It's not that I have the desire, to say nothing of the ability, to supplant 'The Elements of Style.' Writers can profit by reading more than one style guide, and much of Strunk and White (as it is commonly called) is as timeless as it is charming. But much of it is not. Strunk was born in 1869, and today's writers cannot base their craft exclusively on the advice of a man who developed his sense of style before the invention of the telephone (let alone the Internet), before the advent of modern linguistics and cognitive science, before the wave of informalization that swept the world in the second half of the twentieth century."
In this new style of stylebook, Pinker has set out to call our attention to "writerly habits that result in soggy prose."
I'm reading the fourth of the book's six chapters and feeling inclined to take his advice. The only "soggy prose" I see in "The Sense of Style" is in the examples, which Pinker corrects deftly.
I'll be quoting from the book for a while -- and benefiting from it even longer.
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