Daily Reading Notes

July 24, 2019

Elements of Style

Consice advice for anyone that writes. A must read.

If two independent clauses share the same subject and joined by a but, separate them with a comma before the conjunction. If they are joined by an and, omit the comma.

When joining two closely related independent clauses prefer a semicolon. It is more direct than using a conjunction.

Only break a sentence in two for high emphasis. In general, reserve this technique for dialog, when the character speaks in a clipped tone.

Join two independent clauses with a colon if the second one amplifies or further describes the first. It links the two clauses closer than a semi colon without requiring a conjunction.

Words between the subject and the verb do not change the number of the verbs. Do change the word to describe the detail about the subject.

A participial phrase (a phrase that acts as an adjective) at the beginning of a sentence must describe the subject.

Structure your composition from paragraphs. Every one should have a singular, clear purpose.

Avoid using the negative form. "Not" and other denials strip the sentence of its power. Replace them with appropriate adjectives. Tell the reader what is never what is not.

Infuse your sentences with the right detail. If the piece is filled with indecision, the reader can't construct a clear mental picture.

Sentences that have the same form dull your writing. Only use the same form to link similar ideas spread across multiple sentences, making your writing feel consistent.

Never leave the reader wondering what you are referring to by splitting up related words. Clarity is your goal in all writing.

Place new or important information at the end of sentences and paragraphs. The ending position gives emphasis.

Do not draw attention to slang. Setting off words with quotations or other marks make you look pompous.

Do not spell out dates or other numbers.

Eliminate the use of "case" to make your sentences stronger; in many "cases" it's not needed.

To "compare to" is to point out similarities. To "compare with" is to point out differences.

Avoid using "however" at the start of a sentence in place of "nevertheless" or "but". It is stronger in the middle: implying "in what ever way possible."

"Less" refers to the quantity not the number. Don't misuse it for "fewer".
"Meaningful" has little meaning; use a more descriptive adjective.
"State" means to express fully or clearly, not a substitute for "say".

"Thank you in advance" implies that you can't be bothered to thank them late. Ask for what you want politely, and follow up with a "thank you".

If a previous sentence has multiple actors, "this" cannot carry the load. The word's improper use will lead to ambiguity.

Do not use "while" in place of "and", "but", or "although". Even when "while" makes sense, it's better replace by a semi-colon.

There are no degrease of uniqueness.

Don't flourish your writing with a fake style. Let your style come through naturally through proper writing.

Engage the reader in the story and the events while placing yourself in the background. You aren't the important part in your writing.

If you need an adjective or adverb for clarity, and not for style, your verbs and nouns are too weak. Let nouns and verbs convey your meaning.

The breezy manner destroys the substance of a piece.
Have sympathy for your readers. Fancy words and long sentences will burden
them.
Let the story show how things have turned out; remove your opinion.
Avoid business or marketing jargon if you can. Words like finalize have a fuzzy meaning: does it mean to "put the finishing touches on", or "terminate". When in doubt any an term, choose clarity.

Copyright © Artem Chernyak 2020