Strunk and White and Williams wrote 2 very different guides to style! Strunk and White provide a short, concise guide to style that gives a lot of very useful advice in the most succinct way possible. It is a handy book to have and easy to read. Generally speaking, it is the kind of style guide I expect to encounter in a freshman level writing class. I will definitely hang on to this little book and refer to it in the future. In fact, I’ve used it about half a dozen times since reading it already. It definitely gets a big thumbs up for conciseness and helpfulness.
Williams, however, provides a style guide of a different sort. To begin, it approaches writing from a more philosophical arena than S&W. Williams says from the beginning that he is not going to give us advice like “Be clear”. Instead, Williams discusses every aspect of writing from a higher level. The book is not one you can sit and read in one sitting. In fact, it took me about 5 sittings to get through just the preface and first chapter. What really amazed me, however, was how easy it was to integrate the information. I immediately wanted to look through some of my writing and look for subject and verb locations. This little fix could have a huge impact for my readers. Amazing. If I’d been given this book as a freshman, I probably would have felt pretty intimidated by it. But, it has proven to be a surprise hit for me. S&W got a big thumbs up, but the book by Williams gets two big thumbs up and gold star. At times I wish it had been an easier read, but the information has been amazingly helpful and I can appreciate this book even more than the handy guide by Strunk and White.
Looking back at what I wrote about S&W a few posts ago, I can see the differences between the books even more. Strunk and White left a big impression on me, but it is nothing like what I’ve learned from Williams. S&W taught me about pet peeves and relatively random things to look for in my writing that should improve it. Williams taught me the bigger picture things I can change in my writing to make it better. Williams explained what readers look for and how to play to them while still maintaining my own thoughts and voice. I feel like Williams will impact how I approach writing and revision. In fact, I think I enjoyed the revision process more than I ever have when I used some of the advice I learned from Williams. I never thought I’d say that!