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Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace (7th Edition) 7th Edition

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321095176
ISBN-10: 0321095170
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 7 edition (August 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321095170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321095176
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Grumpy on December 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
I taught writing for 10 years at the University of California, and tried a variety of books. The course was oriented toward clear, effective writing -- writing as communication, rather than writing as "little golden thoughts of me." No book teaches these skills as well as Williams, none is even close. There are books that can teach how to write one clear sentence, and Williams does this too. But "Style" takes the next step and shows how to organize a sequence of sentences in a way that makes it easy for your readers to follow an argument or understand an explanation.
The course produced a real improvement in student writing, an improvement that they could see and appreciate. Most of them said it was among the most useful courses they had taken at college.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Judge on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am an independent corporate trainer who teaches people to write better at work. When my students ask me for good books to learn even more, this is the first book I mention. I tell them, "If you are a good writer and you want to be a very good writer, get this book."
I also tell them several other things about the book. First, it is not a book of lists like the excellent resource, The Elements of Style. Instead, it's a challenging textbook that is informative and compelling from beginning to end. Second, it teaches a novel way to keep readers interested in what you are writing. Basically it's narrative, or story telling, within each sentence. Third, it provides guidance on advanced topics such as emphasis, elegance, and ethics. Topics like these might seem esoteric or irrelevant, but the author makes them easy to understand and shows why they are useful, and he does it in a way that is fun to read.
This book is one of those few textbooks that you will remember the same way you remember that favorite teacher. Like that teacher, it brought you to a new level of knowledge, and it did it with humor and style.
I rated this book 5 stars because I think it is superior in all categories for a textbook: useful content, insightful author, clear exposition, skillful publishing, and reasonable price.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M. Hobbs on December 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was written to serve as a college textbook (almost certainly for a full quarter or semester freshman composition class), so of course Mr. Williams is going to take 50,000 words to say what he could have said in 5000, and not just by including lots of exercises (although he does that). It was written by a perfesser, so be warned. However, there's good news.

Most books on writing are basically lectures that focus either on correcting mistakes (avoiding passive voice, removing deadwood phrases, etc.) or on following correct writing practices (use active voice, choose the precise word, etc.), generally with lots of examples thrown in. Their premise is that if you tell readers the right/wrong things to do/not to do and show them examples, they'll learn.

But this book - if you stick with it - will *teach you how* to build effective sentences and, to a limited extent, effective paragraphs. Williams' approach is based on three simple principles:

a. People look to the FIRST of a sentence - and to the subject+verb[+object] duo/trio, in particular - to learn what the sentence is about, the subject matter. So, put subject+verb[+object] near the first of the sentence. Keep introductory phrases relevant and short, and DO NOT break this duo/trio up with lots of extraneous material.

b. People remember what's at the end of the sentence best/longest, so put the POINT, the stuff you want to drive home to the reader, at or near the END of the sentence.

c. Vary this pattern to create a logical flow from sentence to sentence, even using the dreaded, evil active voice when it enhances the sentence-to-sentence flow.

If writers would follow these simple principles, at least one third of my job as a technical editor would be unnecessary.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By M. D. Smith on August 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book fundamentally challenged and changed my view of writing. In simple and clear prose, Williams showed me how to write, true to the adage "Show don't tell." He gives examples of both good and bad writing and works through them, clearly showing what distinguishes good and bad writing, and how to avoid the latter. The book is so well written, that many years ago when I purchased the 5th edition, I was able to read and understand it thoroughly as a freshman in college, without needing an instructor or upperdivision English class to explain the principles of the book (which he sums up succinctly at the end of each lesson). Through his writing, Williams illustrated the principles of good writing far better than any of my English professors later did. If you wish to write well, let this book be the first and foremost step to your goal.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Doyle Stevick on August 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
As an academic, I've read 8-10 books on writing and this volume was, hands-down, the most useful for me. Williams shows concretely how to organize small sections of writing and how to use words effectively.

I was rather surprised at the distaste the previous reviewer had for this volume. I wasn't swept away by Williams' own writing, but I didn't expect a writing manual to be a work of literature. Perhaps writers all become partisans of their own favorites guides. I've never posted a review before, but I am so enthusiastic about this book that I couldn't allow such a negative view to give the first impression. (I have copies everywhere I do any writing.)

It is a shame that a sample isn't available through amazon yet, because one or two lessons would convince any shopper of the book's utility or irrelevance. An earlier edition, used, should suffice. It is worth the investment and time.
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