The Elements Of Style – William Shrunk, Jr.

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It seems the more I write the less I know about writing. I’m educated, I’m literate, reasonably creative and unapologetic about my correctly punctuated texting, but if I had a pound for every comma I have deleted and reinstalled, or page I have scattered with semi-colons only to have to sweep them up afterwards, well, I’d probably have enough cash to purchase Random House and publish anyway; colons be damned. What a sentence, commas everywhere.

To combat this constant and pervasive ‘ugh-what-a-useless-git-why-am-I-even-bothering-to-write’ syndrome I have put myself on a constant course of learning. I’ve tried creative writing classes and they weren’t for me. Being borderline claustrophobic in a room dominated by a teacher who was very firmly stuck in 1978 (and had brought along the writing magazines to prove it) was not a positive experience for me.

So I decided to research the best self help books for writers, the one’s recommended by actual writers, and I have been laying the foundations for my art ever since. The learning process is part of my working week, scheduled in amongst all the wrting and just as important. In fact I have learned so much that I may have to eat my very first draft to prevent any human eyes from falling upon it. EVER.

The slim and simple volume I lay before you today is one such book. It may be dated (older even than the teacher from 1978)  but contains some ageless advice along with the bare bones of our beautiful language. I read it and it cast sunshine on my writing, lightened my prose and kicked me up the backside for forgetting so much. Unfortunately, it was not quite potent enough to shut off my wordiness: not on paper nor in life; I have been cursed with too much to say.

Try out Mr Shrunk and let me know what you think, and if it’s helpful I’ll post my other writing books. I’d also love to hear any recommendations; there’s a lot of dross out there and the gold can be hard to find, so any help would be most appreciated.

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