Sunday, 19 December 2010


Writing with vigour. In The Elements of Style,  William Strunk Jr. created sound advice for authors. Originally written in 1918, this book has been mined for information for a long time. The  11 Elementary Principles of Composition are the keystone of good writing. 
“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” – William Strunks
Of the 11 elementary principals, there are 6 absolute elements:
  • Write in paragraphs - change when you introduce a new person, place or time

  • Use the active voice.

  • Put statements in positive form.

  • Use definite, specific, concrete language.

  • Omit unnecessary words.

  • Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.

I have learned so much during the writing process. I only really understood one of these key principles at the start.

Heading into the season of excess, it is the best time to remember to be vigorous: have fun, shape up and write! 


  1. wow. I mean I pretty much knew all that. although not as concisely - except for that last one. I need to write that one down. On second thought, I'm going to write them all down and tape it to my computer where I'll see it every day. Thank you!

  2. I'm always lending my copies of Strunk and White to aspiring writers and somehow I never get them back. Just realized I'm out of a copy again. We do need to re-read it often, don't we? We may know this stuff intellectually, but it's harder to actually apply it to our own WIP. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I keep hearing about the Strunk and White book. I am going to buy a copy, your post has convinced me.

  4. Hi ms
    These are the essence of writing. I'm glad they will be useful to you too.

    Hi Anne
    I agree. Applying the rules are the challenge.

    Hi Glynis
    I love the fact that the book has evolved. They are really useful rules.