When I learned (via @limbackm) that today marks the 50th anniversary of Strunk and White’s grammar primer The Elements of Style, I decided to pull my copy off the shelf and thumb through it, just for a wave of nostalgia. Problem is, it wasn’t there. Somebody stole my Strunk and White.
Or maybe it’s at home, or just plain lost. Maybe I lent it to a former student assistant who never returned it. That’s what happened to my last two copies of On Writing Well.
Thanks be to the Internet, Strunk and White lives online. Here’s one of the quotes I almost have memorized from the book.
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.
That’s from the section about omitting needless words. And that’s all I’m going to write about that.