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  • jwh784

Shorts #2

Updated: May 16, 2021

For anyone interested in writing, I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing, and The Deer on a Bicycle by Patrick McManus as an interesting compare/contrast study of the “how I got this way” story from two very different authors and humans. Integral to that story is how they each wound up making money at it, which is an entirely different kettle of fish to simply writing. For anyone interested in the mechanics of writing, I recommend Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, which I still regard as the best everyday style manual. Yes, I learned the Chicago Style Manual out of necessity, but I remember Elements of Style. “Never use two words when one word will do,” advised Strunk & White. “Never use a long word when a short word will do.” Which agrees with something a prominent attorney included in a comment on something I’d written for the PSO Musicians’ newsletter. As he told his junior lawyers often when reviewing their legal briefs, always mind your ABCs.




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May 12, 2021


Excellent advice. Strunk & White and the Chicago Manual of Style have been mainstays in my ability to communicate clearly with the written word. It's mechanics, yes, but it's more than that. Writing is symbolic communication, wherein the meaning you want to communicate is represented by the symbols you write. They all mean something...or, at least they're supposed to. The position of a comma (or its absence) can change the entire meaning perceived by the reader. It's called syntactic precision.

For those who are concerned about semantic precision (choosing the right words, in the right order), I would recommend Say What You Mean by Rudolf Flesch. Warning: It's only for those who genuinely want to communicate with the written…


May 12, 2021

I read On Writing years ago when it first came out, and it elevated my respect for its author, who too often has been snubbed by literary snobs.

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