It struck me, as I was tossing from side to side struggling to sleep after eating an ill-advised spicy burrito, that my favourite authors have a lot to answer for in the way I’ve developed my writing style. Feverishly confused about why I wasn’t sleeping, I startled to rattle off single sentences that summarised exactly what I felt I’d got from reading the works of those marvellous writers. Not the specific points of English you could learn in style guides, but the special inspiration that only a successful demonstration can drive home. And, lo, here’s the result of that sleep-deprived thought process: Continue reading
If you’re reading this from America, you probably know both these books. Otherwise they might have passed you by. Personally, I discovered them quite late, by which time I already adhered to most of the principles in them. However, they summarise a lot of my views on writing clear and concise English language, so much so that I thought it worth blogging them here. Already famous in America, The Elements of Style was labelled one of the All-Time 100 Nonfiction Books by Time magazine – that is, one of the most influential books written in English since 1923. Otherwise called the Strunk and White (after its authors), this prescriptive language book is often forced upon students for its simple and effective rules. They are sometimes contentious, but mostly on point. The second book I want to highlight is Writing That Works, a business writing guide that novelist Louis Begley called “the Strunk and White of business writing” and famed advertiser David Ogilvy gave as his number 1 advertising tip: “read it three times”. Writing that Works is a similar style guide, from some of Madison Avenue’s most successful advertisers, and gives rules specific to communication. Continue reading
This is a recreated book review that I wrote a while back. When I finished reading this book, I wrote in the front of it that This is the most rewarding book you will ever read. and left it on a bookshelf in Fiji, dreaming that someone would go through the effort of reading the whole thing based only on my comment. I doubt anyone’s picked it up since then – Fiji is a strange and frightening place. I stand by what I wrote, though, because Middlemarch will give you more than a story. It’ll give you a better appreciation for humanity.