Damn that Stephen King. He’s the one who said in his book, On Writing, I should read The Elements of Style, the esteemed grammar manual, as though it were a bible.
Here I’m basking in my assumed brevity only to realize I’m wordy as hell. Charles Dickens, move over.
It was the best of times, it was the worse of times, mother fucker.
I went back to some of my earlier essays and couldn’t believe how poorly written they were. The editing was embarrassing, if you can even call it that.
I remember Hemingway saying, if you love a word too much get rid of it. I should have listened to Papa since I seem to be in love with the whole English language.
On page 39 in William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s book we have...Omit needless words...giving examples that despite my bellyaching, really helped me see what one doesn’t need:
the question as to whether….or just plain…whether
there is no doubt but that…no doubt, or doubtless.
used for fuel purposes…used for fuel
he is a man who…he
in a hasty manner…hastily
there is a subject that…this subject
Her story is a strange one….Her story is strange.
the reason why is that…because
Vigorous writing is concise, says Bill and E.B. (you do feel as if you know them after they shred your prose like coleslaw).
Here I tout myself a minimalist thinking I’ve lassoed the economy of words when all I’ve done is hoard them. No wonder Stephen King recommends reading this. If you discount the shame and torment, so far it’s been a great help.
King also urges to eliminate all that is unnecessary, even giving an elaborate example at the end of his book to show how brutally he edits. What I found interesting was how obvious it becomes once you see the before and after.
I’m grateful to Strunk, White and King, and see it will take a while to curb my bad habits up to a week ago, I had no idea I had.
It’s right up there with trying not to bite your nails…but
progress not perfection, as they say in 12 Step.
Loving your art while committing to it makes you want to make it better.
On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Warriner’s English Grammer and Composition
all on AbeBooks.com