Monday, February 20, 2006

Chapter 1 Style Summary

Chapter one talks about writing clear sentences as opposed to wordy or unclear sentences. This is an area that should be addressed when one is in the later stages of a piece of writing, as the first objective is to get the idea down. However, in the revision stage one should consider simplifying sentences for clarity. Unclear writing has different names for different disciplines -- bureaucratese for writing government regulations, legalese in legal documents, and academese in academic writing. These types of writing are undesirable because the reader and sometimes even the writer can't determine the meaning of the writing. Why write something if no one can understand it?
Politicians, doctors, and the like write wordy, unclear sentences to show their "intelligence." People mistakenly believe that simple, concise writing doesn't reflect intelligence. There has been a long past history of writers who write vague, long sentences with good ideas that are almost incomprehensible to the reader. A reader shouldn't have to strain his intellectual capacities to understand writing.
Some writers believe that "plumping up their prose" impresses readers, who think that this type of writing means that the writer is a deep thinker. Other writers become too concerned with gramma, which constricts good flow in a piece of writing. Dense writing can also be a sign that the writer's subject material is unfamiliar to him, which means that he can't explain it without using a multitude of words and sentences. Writers also tend to forget that their readers don't see their writing as clearly as they do, so they don't simplify it enough for it to be easily comprehensible.
Rare occasions, such as writing a presidental inaguaral address, call for wordy, complicated writing. However, it is generally better to write in a way that is easy to understand for the reader by editing out the "fluff."


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