subtle.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


William Strunk, Jr in The Elements of Style writes this:
'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 sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.'

I completely agree. I’m trying to get better at this, at chipping away at unnecessary thoughts, words, commas. Writing that is cluttered with too many obscure words and phrases feels a bit self indulgent to me. I think the best writing is hardly noticeable, it honours the ideas it gives form to.
I finished reading The Remains of the Day last week. It is an excellent book, very engaging, and I think it is because Ishiguro writes like this: with quietness. The most powerful moment in the book happens in a single sentence near the end of the story. It is perfect, but I would have missed it – a skipped beat in my heart – if the rest of the novel hadn’t been so muted. Really beautiful.


(Picture from: here.)

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