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Elements of Style teaches you how to write clearly and concisely. It doesn't teach you how to write a novel.



Your statement is narrowly true, but if you mean to imply that would-be novel writers wouldn’t benefit from internalizing Strunk & White, or that they need not worry about clarity or economy, then I disagree.

Eliezer’s point that careful word choice is essential to good writing applies just as much to novels as any other format.


I think authors would benefit from Elements, though like all strategies, should not be taken as ideology. Apply where necessary. Even Hemmingway did not stick to strictly minimalism.

We can also go off on a tangent, and talk about how Strunk & White was published right at the end of the Victorian era, when WWI essentially wiped out the Romanticism ideals of that era. Something similar happened in America after the American Civial War. Mark Twain's writing became darker, gritter -- clearer -- when compared to his earlier works. Post-Civil War, no one wanted to trumpet the glories of war. It took the Europeans another seventy years to catch up. (My little excursion falls apart because both Strunk and White were Americans).

I could compare this to martial arts training. Newbies are aweful to look at. They have so much wasted motion. Economy of movement suggests mastery of the art form. Masters condense sophistication into simple movements, fully aware of their potential. They do not merely have simple movements.

My main point though, is that there are other skills in writing novels not found in Strunk & White. Good expressive technique does not make a good story. I may agree that Elements is worth using. I don't agree it is the only guide you should study.




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