after reading both guides, it seems that Willams and Strunk & White cover basically the same topics, just in different ways. Strunk & White stick to the rule based format, stating guidelines and giving examples but never discussing things in depth. Williams seems to enjoy full length explanations and historical reasons for the guidelines he is giving. because of the way that he goes about conveying his ideas, I think his guide may be better suited for truly understanding concepts of style while S&W are a better go to guide for quick questions about punctuation or word order.
I found myself liking William’s guide better simply because it felt like it had a little more room for interpretation. and although it was a little confusing, the chapter about “Elegance” (chapter 9) showed that he considered writing an art in some ways. while reading S&W, I sometimes felt like they were trying to make English into a science. however, an issue I had with both guides was the condescending air they both gave off. no matter how useful their advice is, I didn’t like that while reading it I felt like I was being corrected or looked down upon by the authors. Williams exemplified this more than S&W, in that he often mentioned things that were indeed over the reader’s head. one particular example I remember from the beginning is a statement he made about how he edited a paragraph – he basically said “I could have edited this even better, but that would have shown my super secretly awesome editing skills that only amazingly talented writers can learn so I didn’t want to go over your head.” I guess I just feel like if they really wanted their guides to be used, they should have been more accommodating and less condescending.
the area I found S&W most helpful with was punctuation. their rules and examples made it very clear how and when to use punctuation correctly. I think that it’s important to know this because it’s irritating to have to mentally insert your own punctuation while reading or have a sentence be broken up by way too many commas. I also think it’s important to know the correct way so that when you want to stray from it to make a point or inflect a certain type of style, you can do so.
as for Williams, I will from now on cease being TURGID in my writing. (as a sidenote, that is quite possibly one of the funniest words in the English language.) because I grew up doing a lot of creative writing, I think it is sometimes easy for me to get carried away and elaborate on parts of my essays that aren’t the important parts, simply because I can. I also think that something that was taught in high school is that using big, sophisticated words does help your paper. what wasn’t taught is that it only helps if they’re used properly and make sense. there’s nothing worse than reading a paper where you can tell that the writer used a thesaurus for everything even though they may not have understood the meanings. being clear is an incredibly important part of writing because after all, the whole point of putting something down on paper (so to speak) is to get a point across.
all that being said, I hope my punctuation was good and I wasn’t rambling – otherwise I may not have learned anything at all!