Friday, April 4, 2003


Peter Lindberg:

Dale Emery wrote to recommend Joseph M. Williams’s Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, calling it a Refactoring for writers. That definitely sounds interesting!

Both books are good, and the comparison is apt. I actually prefer Williams’s other Style book to the one above. It has basically the same material without the classroom angle. Style is the most useful book I’ve found about writing. Strunk and White motivate: “make every word tell” and “omit needless words.” Williams helps you refactor your writing to actually do that. (Of course, it’s a never-ending struggle.) When I was studying psycholinguistics a few years ago, I read a bunch of papers that (unknowingly) verified some of Williams’s claims. Perhaps prescriptivists and descripivists aren’t so far apart after all.

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