Monday, July 21, 2008

Looking through the eyes of others at Williams and S&W.

Looking through the eyes of others at Williams and S&W.

Looking at other peoples blogs is really fun! When reading peoples thoughts about the past 2 books we have read, it's solidifies what I am feeling about both of these readings. Both have their place on my book shelf, with few reservations. They serve different purposes for me, and from reading others thoughts, it appears this is the same for others as well.

In Jennifer's blog I see something that is perhaps the hardest thing about reading S&W. They set forth rules that feel so restrictive, you feel boxed in. I believe this can truncate anyones writing, especially if they are timid, or new writers. I know that I am looking with an unpracticed eye at my own writing, and perhaps making stylistic errors when I delete something that may actually contribute to the point I wish to get across. While I think Prof. Strunk may prefer that writers, NOT write something if it's not stylistically correct, I don't agree that this is a desired outcome of reading this book. Some people may be talented, creative writers, and with practice, guidance and perseverance, may become talented, creative and stylistically correct writers. S&W seems to be so set in rules, it may put off the desire to even write at all.

Williams seems to allow for creativeness in ones writing, as he is not so much rule governed, but rule suggestive. If one can get through the complexity of Williams to the second part of his book, I believe that might actually free a writer to write and explore where their writing might take them. I think in some cases, they might be surprised! One thing that Williams seems to address, perhaps not directly, is that the writer must write. Sometimes, as he says in chapter seven Page 122 "Those of us who are already socialized in a field should think twice before we dismiss as incompetent a writer who seems wordy or banal. He may be, but he may also simply be learning his stuff."

Through out reading both books, I was amused at this thought. One of the major problems with a directive to "write a 5 page paper, with at least 3000 words" will create everything that both books address...excess words. Many students will do anything to fulfill the requirement of words, rather the point. This sort of language usage may be incorrect, but is used often! Gina's Blog from the spring 328 class elaborates on this point "Often, it seems that students use more words in order to reach a certain required word mark on an assignment", and I agree. If intelligent points are to be made, it seems as if the words used to create that point are more important then the amount or length of such a piece. I do understand how this is impossible given the nature of students and their lives and the job of a professor...but back to the Williams quote used before, maybe the student is still "learning their stuff" and is still sorting out their writing to fit their audience. Usually one crawls before one walks...may be awkward, but part of the process. That being said, I agree- S&W is a more accessible book for the novice writer, but Williams really helps the more advanced writer along the path.

It appears that other share this viewpoint. From Lauren's blog "It was relieving to see that for the most part, the class agrees on issues, namely that S&W is far more accessible for younger, more novice writers while the Williams is suitable for the advanced, experienced writer." Overall, this is the impression that most students in the 328 class came away with. Williams and S&W, while both having the word Style in their titles, are focused on different audiences.

I would argue that we, as students in a 328 class, are ready and indeed need to attempt to grasp (notice that I say attempt, I think this is a hard thing, and part of a process) the information in Williams book. Said in Beth's Blog"We're not in elementary school anymore; we're through with simple and easy. Now it's time to start delving deeper into the world of writing, and to write off a book because it's challenging is not going to cut it at this stage in the game. " That pretty much a blunt, honest statement.

We are here, in an upper-level writing class, and we have to step up to the plate. From Shardaes Blog in this semester, "The advice offered by Williams was more useful to me with my writings because it went more into depth about different topics and how we understand them in papers."

I agree with Shardaes entry. I gained more from Williams as a writer, and honestly, as a reader. But, I know that I will continue to use S&W to make sure that the basic rules are followed.

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