I did NOT see these edits coming…

If you’re reading the series documenting my journey though Stunk and White’s Elements of Style, you’ll know I was recently made aware of a handy piece of editing to be undertaken on my manuscript: talking in the positive form and my use of the word not.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 08.46.05As writers, we all know redundant words such as that and very can (and should be) cut during the editing process. Until I read S&W’s book, however, I had no idea how also removing the word not can tighten up one’s prose. Writing in a more positive tone has a wonderful effect on the whole feel of a book… unless of course the mood you’re going for is one of darkness, hesitation and negativity; in that case let words like not, would, could, should, may or might come raining down. If not, dump them.

So, after reading this rule I used the ‘find’ tool and plodded though my manuscript looking for instances where I could replace negative phrases with more positive ones. I found 277 uses of the word not… that’s right, 277.

Here are just a few examples of the changes I made:

Continue reading

Paragraphs, passive voice and positivity…

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 14.23.57So here I am – after a time – back on my journey through Stunk and White’s Elements of Style and my attempt at applying every single rule to my manuscript.

Today covers rules 13, 14 and 15, and can I just say how nice it was of S&W to group these rules together thus allowing me to alliterate them into a catchy title. Thanks.

Anyway, on with the post.

Rule 13. Make the paragraph the unit of composition.

This rule basically tells us that writers should use the paragraph as a means of communicating intent to the reader. A paragraph can be used introduce a new topic as well as defining separate dialogue and punctuating prose. S&W make a good point on paragraph length saying in general, remember that paragraphing calls for a good eye as well as a logical mind. Enormous blocks of print look formidable to readers, who are often reluctant to tackle them. (True) But remember, too, that firing off many short paragraphs in quick succession can be distracting. Continue reading

I get this… but I just don’t GET it

Part four of my series that looks to apply every single rule from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style to my manuscript. Today, rules 9, 10 & 11.

First of all, I shall admit that these last few rules on Elementary Rules of Usage are, for me, quite a ways from being elementary. In other words, I don’t really understand them. I can study rule 9 and place it into the context of my manuscript, but the others…? We’ll see.

Continue reading

Parenthetic expressions, and what I learned from Tolstoy…

And so here is the next instalment of my series that looks to apply every single rule from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style to my manuscript. Rules 3 to 5.


3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.

This is something that I have always done. Continue reading

A journey through The Elements of Style: Part one…

So I’ve just finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing, and yes I know, I’m a bit late to the game on that one, but hey, I got there in the end.

First of all, I must say that it’s a brilliant book and well worth reading if, like me, you are in the infancy of your novel-writing adventure. I was given On Writing by my wonderful wife as a birthday present, along with Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. King mentions this book in his introduction, obviously holding it in high esteem, and then goes on to quote it many times throughout his own book. In truth he calls it the only book on writing that isn’t bullshit – his words, not mine.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 14.23.57And so I have decided to apply The Elements of Style to my manuscriptblogging about as I go. I shall take each of the 43-or-so rules, covering a number in each new post, depending on how much work needs to be done for each rule. Continue reading