Monday, August 11, 2008

Omit Needless Words - Terry

My husband came across this quote in my book of E. B. White Essays. E. B. White revised Elements of Style, written originally by William Strunk. He was making light of Strunk's insistence on omitting needless words. Strunk once gave a speech to emphasize same and here is a direct quote:
"Omit needless words. Omit needless words. Omit needless words."
Do you think he understood how funny that was? Here's the rest of the advice:
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. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

I was going through a folder of things I wrote a long time ago. I came across the four rejection letters that ground me to a halt and made me decide I couldn't write. I was too young to understand that it takes hundreds of rejection letters to make a writer! Who knew the internet would afford a place to unleash all those pent-up words? So now I must continue to work on "omitting needless words" and only publish words that are truly needful!