So...what have we learned?

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"Clarity is a value that is created by society and that society must work hard to maintain, for it is not just hard to write clearly. It is almost an unnatural act." page 141 of Joseph Williams' Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

 

Anybody who thinks writing clearly is easy has their head stuck where the sun don't shine. Reading through Williams' entire book has made that crystal clear, no pun intended. I discovered several little things that I didn't even realize were things at all that could drastically affect my writing for better or for worse. I thought I knew plenty about clear writing but Williams' deep analysis really opened up a whole new world of written clarity to me.

Clear writing isn't about following every obscure rule in the book either. In fact, clear writing often displays which rules to follow and which ones to ignore. Being an expert in language and its construction doesn't guarantee great writing. A good ear can go as, if not farther than, a grammarian's brain when composing clearly written pieces. But that ear also must be trained and the pen must follow.

I don't know if I would call clear writing an unnatural act. If it were then I don't think it could be an acquired skill. It is, however, reserved to a certain group of people who have the raw writing skills and talent to begin with that can then develop that into clear and concise writing. Those people and their works are still admired today. I'm not saying I can get there someday, but I know that I can harness all of my talents together to produce a pretty darn good product. 

1 Comments

Great reflection, Sean. Clarity is an often under-appreciated value in good writing, since most of the time we only notice obscurity, and the hard work that goes into clear writing is invisible to the casual reader.

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