Monday, April 1, 2024

Strunk & White and the Via Negativa

17. Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell. - William Strunk and E. B. White, The Elements of Style (3rd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 1979).

If you take William Strunk’s injunction to “Omit needless words” and perfect it, the result is the complete silence I have been practicing on this blog over the last couple months. But the end of term is upon us. Once I am done marking up my students’ needless words, perhaps I will have room to add a few of my own.  

Good Friday Snow