|I know: not SunChips. (I ate all of those.)|
But similarly addictive.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
I impulse-checked-out this book from the library one day, then impulse-bought SunChips that evening, and came home and gorged myself on both.
(This was not planned, the book-and-chips binge. It was all nothing but impulsive. Sometimes things get crazy around here.)
I meant to eat a few chips while I read the first few pages, at which point I’d put down the books and the chips and do something virtuous, productive, and worthy of praise.
Instead, I ate half the bag of chips for dinner (it was one of those big bags, guys) and gulped down half a style manual at the same time.
Yes, this is my life.
The thing is: I was dealing with addictive substances!
Strunk & White pulled me right in, and I kept feeling relief followed by horror, as I realized which guidelines I follow religiously and which I violate like a felon.* (Cripe: Is it any surprise I needed to comfort myself with chips?)
So here are a couple of their edicts that sum things up:
“Use definite, specific, concrete language.” (p. 37)
“Write with nouns and verbs.” (p. 105)
“Omit needless words.” (p. 39) I’ve been doing this one consciously lately, and it feels almost as good as decluttering my house.
Strunk & White sometimes sound cantankerous, but sometimes they just make me smile.
Here's one instance: “Many nouns have lately been pressed into service as verbs. Not all are bad, but all are suspect.” And then their example: “Be prepared for kisses when you gift your girlfriend with this merry scent.” (p. 82) ("Gift" as a verb makes me gag. Anyone with me on this?)
And, one of my favorites: “Rich, ornate prose is hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating.” (p. 105)
*I’ve probably just broken at least 7 of their rules. And I’m too damn lazy to cite chapter and verse. If anyone else wishes to do so, have at it. And pass the chips, please.