A Piece of Advice

A piece of writing advice from Strunk & White:

“Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place. This is not to disparage adjectives and adverbs; they are indispensable parts of speech. Occasionally they surprise us with their power, as in

‘Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men…’

The nouns mountain and glen are accurate enough, but had the mountain not become airy, the glen rushy, William Allingham might never have got off the ground with his poem. In general, however, it is nouns and verbs, not their assistants, that give good writing its toughness and color” (Strunk & White, Elements of Style, pp. 71-72).

Strunk & White also speak of using “figures of speech sparingly” (p. 80).

“When you use a metaphor, do not mix it up. That is, don’t start by calling something a swordfish and end by calling it an hourglass” (Elements of Style, p. 80).

There MIGHT be a very minuscule number of writers that can (successfully) pull this off.

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