Summary of Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace
Summary of “Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace”
Williams’ Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace delves into clarity in writing alongside issues such as choosing correct wording. Williams explains about how writers can focus on action and characters to enhance their skills. By refining these elements, writers articulate their messages with improved clarity that enables readers to gain a better comprehension of their texts. Clarity, in this context, manifests in the emotions a piece of text evokes in readers (28). The way in which readers apprehend and parse a text depends largely on the writer’s structuring of sentences. In this regard, Williams accentuates the significance of actions and characters in a text. Clarity and grace depend crucially no these particular elements.
In this lesson, William contends that readers prefer when the main character materializes as the subject in a text while actions appear as verbs. Otherwise, readers note the lack of incisiveness in a text, which impacts their interpretation of the text. To integrate clarity into their texts, writers need to adopt a tree-step process –“analyze, assess and rewrite” (36). Analysis of a text entails checking for the presence of abstract nouns are the beginning of a sentence and affirming that the first seven or eight words contain a verb. The writer performs an assessment on the main character and the setting of the actions. Upon completing the first two steps, the writer rewrites the sentence if deemed necessary (36). William proposes this process as a way of refining and perfecting a piece of writing. Readers appreciate a text written succinctly and ideas expressed concisely.
According to Williams, a good writer focuses on the nominalized wording and corrects any flaws. By correcting errors in nominalization, writers make their sentences clearer and more “concrete” and improve the unveiling of the story’s plot (39). Nevertheless, writers may use nominalization to the benefit of the reader when applied correctly. Williams maintains that some instances justify the use of nominalization in writing: when a word takes place of the clause “the fact that”; when naming the object of the verb; when alluding to a familiar notion, and when linking the previous statement with the subject (42). These uses of nominalization enhance the reader’s understanding of a text. Again, writers make their readers happier when they construct their sentences with the verbs and subjects represented by the actions and characters. William maintains persistently that writers should focus more on these elements.
In Lesson Four, William elucidate that characters describe not only a person but also whatever the writer can narrate about (50). By nominalizing verbs in sentences and deleting the characters, writers make their sentences abstract which may complicate the text for the reader. To correct such sentence, Williams proposes changing the abstractions to verbs such as “cessation – cease” and attaching a subject to the verbs such as “they ceased” (52). Williams further advocates for the use of active voice in place of passive voice. By using passive voice, writers express their ideas indirectly. To help writers choose between active and passive voice, Williams proposes that they should consider that readers need to know “who is responsible for an action” and should weigh which among the two voices would allow them to arrange words more concisely (54). By using characters consistently, writers help readers to follow the progression of thoughts.
The reader’s understanding and reception of a story depends primarily on how the writer arranges and presents the text. Williams’ lessons helps writer to improve their writing skills by focusing on crucial elements such as actions and character and diagnosing their prose to make their texts more effective and apprehensible by the reader.
Williams, J. M., & Bizup, J. (2010). Style: Lessons in clarity and grace (Vol. 5
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