As someone who suffers from perennial writer’s block, Strunk & White does nothing to help. I spent thrice the usual time thinking up the post title. Could it be terser? Does it convey the primary content of the post? Should it mention the Elements of Style is also adorably funny on occassion?
I hadn’t read the book before but had come across more than enough posts declaring its demise. I’ve read it now and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love when people have strong opinions and its authors have them in abundance. I suppose its detractors forget that the title is ‘The Elements of Style’ and not ‘The-mandatory-guide-to-perfect-English-and-everything-else-is-wrong’. The authors themselves frequently advise rather than mandate, and acknowledge that language is fluid and bound to change with the times. Why nitpick then? We’re all grown ups here–we should learn to enjoy a book while knowing how to separate its outdated advice from the relevant bits.
I love it most for its terseness. It reminds me of reading a man page. Brimming with content, but precise. Any one who has been through the education system knows the drivel that students are encouraged to vomit in every exam. This ‘skill’ is a pain to unlearn and lives on in mediocre minds in their profession as well. Read that link and weep.
Better to end with Strunk himself, rather than the atrocious text in that link.
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 sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.