Find all the books, read about the author, and more. I . Helen Gurley Brown, who as the author of Sex and the Single Girl shocked early-1960s America with the news that unmarried women not only had sex but thoroughly enjoyed it—and who as the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine spent the next three decades telling those women precisely how to enjoy it even more—died on Monday in Manhattan. Yard boys scared that a single gesture near the planter’s wife could leave them hanging from an oak tree. as hers is now to me. Complaints about the decline of language go at least as far back as the invention of the printing press. Back in the 1980s, when teenagers spoke in fluent paragraphs, bureaucrats wrote in plain English, and every academic paper was a masterpiece in the art of the essay? Fox has found some mots justes and packed them into readable phrases which put the lie to the lazy excuse that you can’t sum up a complex subject—in this case a life’s accomplishments—in just a few words. This includes students who hope to improve the quality of their papers, aspiring critics and journalists who want to start a blog or column or series of reviews, and professionals who seek a cure for their academese, bureaucratese, corporatese, legalese, medicalese, or officialese. The word sense, as in “the sense of sight” and “a sense of humor,” can refer to a faculty of mind, in this case the faculties of comprehension that resonate to a well-crafted sentence. Bad writing can't be blamed on the Internet, or on 'the kids today'. When we engage our conversational partners, we have an inkling of what they know and what they might be interested in learning, and as we chat with them, we monitor their eyes, their face, and their posture. This book will help you blow writer's block to pieces. And the orthodox stylebooks are ill equipped to deal with an inescapable fact about language: it changes over time. [My point of view] would be as inaccessible to her . Please try again. Linguistic research has shown that the passive construction has a number of indispensable functions because of the way it engages a reader’s attention and memory. Those readers are implicitly invited to apply their respect for their ancestors’ courage and sacrifice to the forgotten pilgrims of the Great Migration. . Wilkerson begins the paragraph by stating that the actions of her protagonists are universal, but she does not rest with that generalization. HELEN GURLEY BROWN, WHO GAVE “SINGLE GIRL” A LIFE IN FULL, DIES AT 90. The abrupt ending and the expanse of blankness at the bottom of the page mirror the finality of the decision to move and the uncertainty of the life that lay ahead. Strunk and White, for all their intuitive feel for style, had a tenuous grasp of grammar.2 They misdefined terms such as phrase, participle, and relative clause, and in steering their readers away from passive verbs and toward active transitive ones they botched their examples of both. Good writing is understood with the mind’s eye.6 The unusual description of the familiar act of eating in terms of its geometry—a piece of fruit intersecting with an o—forces the reader to pause and conjure a mental image of the act rather than skating over a verbal summary. . But no, that doesn’t capture it. The authors also share an attitude: they do not hide the passion and relish that drive them to tell us about their subjects. A writer, like a cinematographer, manipulates the viewer’s perspective on an ongoing story, with the verbal equivalent of camera angles and quick cuts. . hauntingly, flinty, tart-tongued, weepy, hard-nosed, astringent, genteelly, risqué, voluptuous, titillating. Fresh wording and concrete images force us to keep updating the virtual reality display in our minds. Unable to add item to Wish List. The expression is snatched from the brink of cliché by its variant wording (sand grains rather than sands) and by its vaguely exotic feel. Perfecting the craft is a lifelong calling, and mistakes are part of the game. The Sense of Style is not a reference manual in which you can find the answer to every question about hyphenation and capitalization. In the last edition published in his lifetime, White did acknowledge some changes to the language, instigated by “youths” who “speak to other youths in a tongue of their own devising: they renovate the language with a wild vigor, as they would a basement apartment.” White’s condescension to these “youths” (now in their retirement years) led him to predict the passing of nerd, psyched, ripoff, dude, geek, and funky, all of which have become entrenched in the language. In fact, this book is not for learning how to write, but it for those who want to learn how to revise the already written text. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. frilly white pinafore. . . How can worlds like these simply cease altogether? . The wedding was late. * A college student who writes a term paper is pretending that he knows more about his subject than the reader and that his goal is to supply the reader with information she needs, whereas in reality his reader typically knows more about the subject than he does and has no need for the information, the actual goal of the exercise being to give the student practice for the real thing. She was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger. Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived, like the silhouette in psychology textbooks which oscillates between a goblet and two faces. Savoring good prose is not just a more effective way to develop a writerly ear than obeying a set of commandments; it’s a more inviting one. People often ask me whether anyone today even cares about style. Goldstein’s is personal, evocative, reflective, yet intellectually just as rigorous. . You remember those days, don’t you? sense phrase. A person whom one loves is a world, just as one knows oneself to be a world. They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often done. . MAURICE SENDAK, AUTHOR OF SPLENDID NIGHTMARES, DIES AT 83. Ten Minute Author is a step-by-step guide to becoming a more productive writer by building an easy daily writing habit. Answer: one people.” By the same logic, writers should avoid using numbers with irregular plurals such as men, children, and teeth (“If of ‘six children’ five went away . I begin to fear that it will be impossible to check it.—1785. But why is she me? I think about how language works so that I can best explain how language works. at least not unproblematically. People often ask me whether anyone today even cares about style. Killjoy style manuals tell writers to avoid alliteration, but good prose is enlivened with moments of poetry, like this line with its pleasing meter and its impish pairing of marital and medical. Style, not least, adds beauty to the world. She nominates the Great Migration for inclusion in a list of storied emigrations (expressed in pleasingly parallel syntax), whose descendants doubtless include many of her readers. It has given me a sense of comfort that is otherwise unobtainable at this time in life. As people age, they confuse changes in themselves with changes in the world, and changes in the world with moral decline—the illusion of the good old days.4 And so every generation believes that the kids today are degrading the language and taking civilization down with it:5, The common language is disappearing. Would I then be someone else or would I just no longer be? Roundly praised, intermittently censored, and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. The writer and the reader are equals, and the process of directing the reader’s gaze takes the form of a conversation. We enjoy none of this give-and-take when we cast our bread upon the waters by sending a written missive out into the world. A person whom one has loved seems altogether too significant a thing to simply vanish altogether from the world. The geometric language also prepares us for the prelinguistic thinking that Goldstein introduces in the next paragraph: we regress to an age at which “to eat” and even “to put in your mouth” are abstractions, several levels removed from the physical challenge of making an object intersect with a body part. . It’s not just that I welcome advice on the lifelong challenge of perfecting the craft of writing. Published: Jul 2020 Downloads: 512 Pages: 57. Are all birds herons? But this is sensible advice but it is does prove the point that it is harder to write shorter and well. They left. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Indianomix: Making Sense of Modern India. [Read] The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century For Kindle Their migration was a response to an economic and social structure not of their making. Nor is it a remedial guide for badly educated students who have yet to master the mechanics of a sentence. I love style manuals. Pauline Phillips, a California housewife who nearly 60 years ago, seeking something more meaningful than mah-jongg, transformed herself into the syndicated columnist Dear Abby—and in so doing became a trusted, tart-tongued adviser to tens of millions—died on Wednesday in Minneapolis. The series of contiguous physical events has rendered the child’s body so different from the one I glance down on at this moment; the very atoms that composed her body no longer compose mine. If readers can see that a writer cares about consistency and accuracy in her prose, they will be reassured that the writer cares about those virtues in conduct they cannot see as easily. And that, we shall see, is a key ingredient in the sense of style. By comparison, Pinker's other works were truly enlightening, explaining to the non-specialist how the brain works, or using extensive analysis to demonstrate that the world is getting to be a better place; they really taught me a lot. Forget it. How can worlds like these simply cease altogether? with me. . The classic manuals, written by starchy Englishmen and rock-ribbed Yankees, try to take all the fun out of writing, grimly adjuring the writer to avoid offbeat words, figures of speech, and playful alliteration. by Universal Uclick. greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. William Strunk’s course notes on writing, which his student E. B. Why not think of it instead as a form of pleasurable mastery, like cooking or photography? With a spare restatement of what philosophers call the hard problem of consciousness (A person . Its section on classic style, in particular, is highly insightful. She said the baby was premature. The writer can see something that the reader has not yet noticed, and he orients the reader’s gaze so that she can see it for herself. . Mrs. Phillips began her life as the columnist Abigail Van Buren in 1956. [Pinker’s] explanations run rich and deep, complemented by lists, cartoons, charts on diagramming sentences, and more.”—Booklist “This book is a graceful and clear smackdown to the notion that English is going to the proverbial dogs. With a spare restatement of what philosophers call the hard problem of consciousness (A person . Dream of being a bestselling romance author? Most people are never going to die. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition. The resolution to the paradox—that a bad thing, dying, implies a good thing, having lived—is explained with parallel constructions: never going to die . It was during the First World War that a silent pilgrimage took its first steps within the borders of this country. The Amazon Kindle Oasis is the boss-level Paperwhite device from Amazon. What is it that makes a person the very person that she is, herself alone and not another, an integrity of identity that persists over time, undergoing changes and yet still continuing to be—until she does not continue any longer, at least not unproblematically? Her thought processes, prelinguistic, would largely elude me. anyone who ever longed to cross the Atlantic or the Rio Grande. After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in. Our linguistic ancestors parlayed that incomprehension into euphemisms like passed on in which death consists of a journey to a remote location. That child is me. But they differ in another way, which makes the acquisition of writing a lifelong challenge even after the mechanics have been mastered. Good writing finishes strong. Good writing is understood with the mind’s eye.6 The unusual description of the familiar act of eating in terms of its geometry—a piece of fruit intersecting with an o—forces the reader to pause and conjure a mental image of the act rather than skating over a verbal summary. "From the sleep-deprived, coffee-infused mind behind Black Parakeets Only Hatch in December comes this new entry in an... Tears No More. The sister whose hand I am clutching in the picture is dead. at least not unproblematically. She has continued to exist, survived her childhood illnesses, the near-drowning in a rip current on Rockaway Beach at the age of twelve, other dramas. We live in an era of social science, and have become accustomed to understanding the social world in terms of “forces,” “pressures,” “processes,” and “developments.” It is easy to forget that those “forces” are statistical summaries of the deeds of millions of men and women who act on their beliefs in pursuit of their desires. We find the little girl in the photograph endearing not because the author has stooped to telling us so with words like cute or adorable but because we can see her childlike mannerisms for ourselves—as the author herself is doing when pondering the little alien who somehow is her. Eye-opening, mind-expanding and cheerful, The Sense of Style shows that good style is part of what it means to be human. May explain why academic writing is so dense (and that is not a comment on the authors). Those skills may not have come from stylebooks, but they must have come from somewhere. The recipients are invisible and inscrutable, and we have to get through to them without knowing much about them or seeing their reactions. Changes not just the way you write (one writes?) Ideas in our heads take the form of webs of connected ideas (semantic nets or webs). Parallel wording is a powerful trope, but after dying and being born, being here in my place and seeing the light of day, enough is enough. Strunk was born in 1869, and today’s writers cannot base their craft exclusively on the advice of a man who developed his sense of style before the invention of the telephone (let alone the Internet), before the advent of modern linguistics and cognitive science, before the wave of informalization that swept the world in the second half of the twentieth century. Were I to lose all sense of myself—were schizophrenia or demonic possession, a coma or progressive dementia to remove me from myself—would it be I who would be undergoing those trials, or would I have quit the premises? Writing is an unnatural act.1 As Charles Darwin observed, “Man has an instinctive tendency to speak, as we see in the babble of our young children, whereas no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew, or write.” The spoken word is older than our species, and the instinct for language allows children to engage in articulate conversation years before they enter a schoolhouse. To be or not to be—it’s hard to see shades of gray there. Definitions by the largest Idiom Dictionary. Today’s writers are infused by the spirit of scientific skepticism and the ethos of questioning authority. Education is an admirable thing,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”1 In dark moments while writing this book, I sometimes feared that Wilde might be right. Who wouldn’t want to find out how this mystery will be solved? With deadpan wit, an affection for eccentricity, and a deft use of the English lexicon, the linguist and journalist Margalit Fox has perfected the art of the obituary.7. But why is she me? . The book is also written for readers who seek no help in writing but are interested in letters and literature and curious about the ways in which the sciences of mind can illuminate how language works at its best. … Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.” Digitization of text also means it’s likely to be … In selecting these uncommon adjectives and adverbs, Fox defies two of the commonest advisories in the stylebooks: Write with nouns and verbs, not adjectives and adverbs, and Never use an uncommon, fancy word when a common, plain one will do. . is a world, just as one knows oneself to be a world), Goldstein creates an effect that is richly emotional. . When we engage our conversational partners, we have an inkling of what they know and what they might be interested in learning, and as we chat with them, we monitor their eyes, their face, and their posture. Grammar is a complete mystery to almost all recent graduates.—1961, From every college in the country goes up the cry, “Our freshmen can’t spell, can’t punctuate.” Every high school is in disrepair because its pupils are so ignorant of the merest rudiments.—1917, The vocabularies of the majority of high-school pupils are amazingly small. A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting is an essential reference work for transactional lawyers whether they’re based in the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere who wish to draft clear and precise contracts in English. It’s also that credible guidance on writing must itself be well written, and the best of the manuals are paragons of their own advice. Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying, and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. . Most people are never going to die. I have no memory at all of that summer’s day, no privileged knowledge of whether that child succeeded in getting the watermelon into her mouth. someone else. But if my sister does exist, then what is she, and what makes that thing that she now is identical with the beautiful girl laughing at her little sister on that forgotten day? We see for ourselves, rather than having to be told about, the offbeat problems, the waggish replies, the (for her time) liberal sensibility. . .”). The syntactic confusion about which grammatical person belongs in which phrase reflects our intellectual confusion about the very meaning of the concept “person.” She also plays with to be, the quintessentially existential verb, to engage our existential puzzlement: Would I then be someone else or would I just no longer be? This passage fills my eyes every time I read it, and not just because it is about a sister-in-law I will never meet. Not with a cliché (“Since the dawn of time”), not with a banality (“Recently, scholars have been increasingly concerned with the question of . In the teeth of these incredible odds? The categories of grammar reflect the building blocks of thought—time, space, causality, matter—and a philosophical wordsmith can play with them to awaken her readers to metaphysical conundrums. Emphasises clarity and usage over pedantry, but simmers with a whiff of political-correctness and a touch of 'get over it'. but how you (one?) It would not end until the 1970s and would set into motion changes in the North and South that no one, not even the people doing the leaving, could have imagined at the start of it or dreamed would take a lifetime to play out. A very good read for improving academic writing. It is slowly being crushed to death under the weight of verbal conglomerate, a pseudospeech at once both pretentious and feeble, that is created daily by millions of blunders and inaccuracies in grammar, syntax, idiom, metaphor, logic, and common sense. With her comic and flinty yet fundamentally sympathetic voice, Mrs. Phillips helped wrestle the advice column from its weepy Victorian past into a hard-nosed 20th-century present. The next sentence restates the contrast, also in parallel language, but avoids the tedium of repeating words yet again by juxtaposing familiar idioms that have the same rhythm: been here in my place . Please try your request again later. Then she showers, brushes her teeth and fixes our breakfast—still in the buff. And that, we shall see, is a key ingredient in the sense of style. When you have to capture a life in just eight hundred words, you have to choose those words carefully. In The Warmth of Other Suns, the journalist Isabel Wilkerson ensured that the story of the Great Migration would be underreported no longer.12 Calling it “great” is no exaggeration. Had Goldstein settled for these weasel words, she would have undermined her analysis before it began. The rules often mash together issues of grammatical correctness, logical coherence, formal style, and standard dialect, but a skilled writer needs to keep them straight. The wedding was late. We’re lucky because we’ll die? Good writers are avid readers. The sister whose hand I am clutching in the picture is dead. This is the elusive “ear” of a skilled writer—the tacit sense of style which every honest stylebook, echoing Wilde, confesses cannot be explicitly taught. someone else. That somewhere is the writing of other writers. We have a body of research on the mental dynamics of reading: the waxing and waning of memory load as readers comprehend a passage, the incrementing of their knowledge as they come to grasp its meaning, the blind alleys that can lead them astray. We are apt to think, “I (and my kind) choose to do things for reasons; he (and his kind) are part of a social process.” This was a moral of Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” which warned against dehumanizing abstraction: “Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers.” With an allergy to abstraction and a phobia of cliché, Wilkerson trains a magnifying glass on the historical blob called “the Great Migration” and reveals the humanity of the people who compose it. In six sentences Dawkins has flipped the way we think of death, and has stated a rationalist’s case for an appreciation of life in words so stirring that many humanists I know have asked that it be read at their funerals. While we had a fondness for the original's somewhat crazy sense of style, the second and third iterations are far more streamlined. Yard boys scared that a single gesture near the planter’s wife could leave them hanging from an oak tree. I have picked four passages of twenty-first-century prose, diverse in style and content, and will think aloud as I try to understand what makes them work. Style still matters, for at least three reasons. What binds these stories together was the back-against-the-wall, reluctant yet hopeful search for something better, any place but where they were. Wilkerson not only rectifies the world’s ignorance about the Great Migration, but with twelve hundred interviews and crystalline prose she makes us understand it in its full human reality. ‘Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived,’ he writes, and The Sense of Style will flip the way you think about good writing. . . The graybeard sensibilities of the style mavens come not just from an underappreciation of the fact of language change but from a lack of reflection on their own psychology. Their migration was a response to an economic and social structure not of their making. We find the little girl in the photograph endearing not because the author has stooped to telling us so with words like cute or adorable but because we can see her childlike mannerisms for ourselves—as the author herself is doing when pondering the little alien who somehow is her. Much advice on style is stern and censorious. . Eye-opening, mind-expanding and cheerful, The Sense of Style shows that good style is part of what it means to be human. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. Style manuals that are innocent of linguistics also are crippled in dealing with the aspect of writing that evokes the most emotion: correct and incorrect usage. Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century might be regarded as an update of Fowler, eschewing pedantry, convoluted or pompous sentence construction, cliché, and inflexible grammatical rules. . But much of it is not. I stare at the picture of a small child at a summer’s picnic, clutching her big sister’s hand with one tiny hand while in the other she has a precarious hold on a big slice of watermelon that she appears to be struggling to have intersect with the small o of her mouth. The phrase subtly alludes to another meditation on unrealized genius, “Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,” from Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.”. They cannot spell common, everyday words. .”). what the pilgrims did . The use of an old-fashioned word for an old-fashioned garment helps date the snapshot for us, without the cliché faded photograph. Professor Strunk tried to do something about it in 1918, when young Elwyn White was a student in his English class at Cornell. On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction. It’s not just that I welcome advice on the lifelong challenge of perfecting the craft of writing. That child is me. But the rules are badly stated. Biographers of great authors always try to track down the books their subjects read when they were young, because they know these sources hold the key to their development as writers. Nor does the writer of classic prose have to argue for the truth; he just needs to present it. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. The Fiction Writer's Book of Checklists: Gentle Reminders to Help Your Work be the ... Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. ), Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, The Plot Skeleton (Writing Lessons from the Front Book 1). We see the clumsiness of a small hand manipulating an adult-sized object; the determination to master a challenge we take for granted; the out-of-sync mouth anticipating the sweet, juicy reward. The goal of this chapter is to provide a glimpse of how that is done. Those skills may not have come from stylebooks, but they must have come from somewhere. 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