The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

Author: 俊雄·高野
All Reddit 98
This Month Reddit 3


by transcribot   2021-12-10

FreeCocaineForKids • 3h


edddot A • 3h

Ouch, that hurt. Anyways, do you have any free

cocaine for a kid in need? Me and I really want

some at the moment.

FreeCocaineForKids • lh

Stumbling through your syntactical soup, I'm

certain you don't need any less brain cells.

edddot A • 51m

Yes, I have an abundance of braincells. Only

problem is that they aren't in use.

v0.6.0 | This message was posted by a bot. | FAQ | Source | Questions? Message the mods!

by Diki   2021-12-10

My immediate advice is for you to read Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. So much of your story is weakened by unorthodox formatting, and outright incorrect formatting, the latter of which there is an abundance. I left comments throughout your Doc regarding these issues, but primarily your dialogue is wrong and you frequently exclude the necessary comma when addressing a person/character. From a technical standpoint your story is a mess; it is littered with problems, most of which are to do with puncuation. Even one mistake would be enough for an editor to stop reading your story. Your work has several dozen mistakes.

I linked this in a comment, but I'll include it here as well: How To Format Dialogue.

If you don't read the book at least read that article.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the direction the story took. With your incessant swearing—right there in the opening sentence—I was expecting something juvenile. How your story starts sets the tone for whats to follow, and you start with Fucking cocksuck. This piece reads like you're young albeit tackling a mature subject. I commend that, but you've got some work to do because your characters sound like teenagers.

As a whole, the idea here is good; I like it.

The Opening

I noticed your opening is extremely similar to The Cable Guy, but I don't think that was intentional. If you've not seen the film: it starts with a guy unable to get his cable working; he calls up the company for help only for a cable guy to almost supernaturally appear, he's still on the phone when the door knocks; the cable guy is eccentric but knows his stuff, and gets the cable working, later turning out to be far more than he appears. Your story deviates from there but anybody familiar with the movie is going to pick up on that.

Your opening does an excellent job of letting the reader get to know Dale. But you need to get rid of the swear words in your opening sentence—don't swear, and certainly don't swear twice, in your first sentence. Now past that initial speedbump, things move much more smoothly. The primary issue here is the pace. Everything plods.

Before I dive into the aforementioned pace: I liked your imagery with the wires appearing like snakes. But you weakened that by going into detail regarding where the wires are going and what they're for. Who cares where they go? Stick to the snakes. It will both help convey your character's mindset—he's not in a good place, he's getting frustrated—and give the reader an unsettling image to imagine. This is horror, afterall. Also, good imagery with "the guts."

I disliked the pacing because your title told me that a third-party is going to come to Dale's home. Dale isn't the cableguy, nor is his son, so I knew the horror aspect of the story had to come from whenever the cableguy shows up. So I kept finding myself thinking, "I get it, the TV doesn't work. Will he just call the cableguy already?" Much of what happens here, while, as I said, does flesh out Dale, is quite repetitive. Pretty much any info given to the reader during the first four pages is this:

  1. Dale is bad with electronics.
  2. Dale's son is good with electronics.
  3. Dale's wife is dead.
  4. The cable doesn't work.

Consider how often you have Dale fail to get the cable working. Does he really need to go to the instructions twice? Does he need to go inside the entertainment unit three times? Is his son peeling plastic important enough to bring up twice? Do you really need to reference Speed and Band of Brothers? Does the reader need to know Dale switched cable providers? How important is it for Dale to take a nap? What would change if he hadn't drunk beer?

There's so much fluff in your opening that is either repeating known information or not adding anything the reader needs to know.

Dale ping pongs in and out of the unit so much it's making the scene boring. It's the same thing over and over: inside the unit, make no progress; climb out, make no progress; return to the unit, make no progress; climb out, make no progress.

It's not until halfway through the entire story that the titular cableguy, whom I've been expecting the whole time, finally arrives.

A man imagining his dead wife is in the room with him is interesting. A man being bad with electronics is boring. Put more focus on Dale's relationship with his wife.

So, good job keeping things clear, but there's fat that needs trimming.


I brought it up in my comments but I will expand on it here. This isn't good:

> “Why won’t this work? What the hell…” is wrong here.

I strongly suggest removing every single instance of this from your story.

Why is that bad? For one, that is a question, so it should end with a question mark, not a period. It's not even correctly formatted, which I want you to keep in mind. Now, most importantly: using ellipses at the end of dialogue means the character trailed off. So your character spoke out loud then trailed off, which implies a pause, before finishing what he was speaking as a thought. That is jarring to read. Read that out loud with the pause that comes along with the use of ellipses. It is so jarring and unnatural.

To hammer this point home: copy and paste your first four sentences into a text-to-speech reader and listen to what you wrote.

Breaking rules for stylistic reasons can be fine, but you don't yet have a solid understanding of correct story formatting so you shouldn't be breaking these rules. If you want to use unorthodox formatting then read The Elements of Style first.


I won't go into detail on this point but you're using way too many curse words. One paragraph has the word "fuck" in it fives times. At the end of page six, which is halfway through your story, I counted fifteen swear words. Out of fifteen-hundred words. Your first page is a title page, so that's an average of five curse words per page. That's too many.

This sounds like a teenager speaking, not an adult:

> “Wingspa…” He huffed. “No, I’m not from Wingspan. Fuck those fucking fucks. I’m a…I’m a more private cable guy. Independent.”

You can have swearing in your story. Just tone it down a notch or two.

Checkov's Son

You drew a fair amount of attention to Dale's son in the opening scene. In fact, the reader knows more about the son than they do Karen. You told us Karen's name and nothing else about her. We know his son attends college, lives away from his father, is good with electronics, likes helping his dad but seems to be getting a bit sick of it, and enjoys peeling plastic of new electronics. All of that information is on your first three pages.

Then, also on page three, the son is basically forgotten. He is completely irrelevant to the entire story. Nothing would change if you removed that character.

I expected some kind of payoff regarding the son. Why else would you draw so much attention to him?

You simply cannot have this:

> His son, who was almost four and a half hours away at the college. His son, who said how proud he was of dear-old-dad for figuring out how to watch Band of Brothers on HBO. His son, who he’d just told would need to learn to start making his own phone payments now. His son, who liked to peel the plastic off of fresh electronics.

and then immediately forget about the son character. Repeating something over and over tells the reader the thing being repeated is important. Tells them to remember it. But the reader could forget literally everything in this quote and still understand the story. Cut stuff like this down or make it matter to the story.

As I covered in the section above: focus on Dale's relationship with his wife, or make the story about his son. Maybe have his son be dead instead. Nothing in the story requires his wife be the dead character. In fact, it would make more sense for it to be his son: much of the story is about his son being good at this stuff. So why wouldn't Hell's cable service hire him? His wife wasn't described as being skilled in this area.

Anyway, right now you're focused exclusively on Dale and his son when the story's about Dale and his wife.

by burnt_wick   2021-12-10

I got my car in rural Pennsylvania. I did a lot of searching online and found the advert. It was a long drive (300 miles round trip).

The only reason I took the chance and made the drive was because the miles on the car were reasonable (91.5k), the idle hours were exceptionally low (295h), and the price was reasonable (dealer was asking $4,250, I bought it for $3,750).

The car was in immaculate condition because it was a Sheriff's car in an extremely rural area (population about 1,000) with zero crime. I looked up the Sheriff and there was only one guy in the entire department and he is an 80 year old guy.

This is probably the best criteria for buying a CVPI - get it from a rural area with little to no crime and low population. That means that the car probably wasn't beaten on because there wasn't much police work to actually do.

The opposite would be a car that was used by a state trooper or highway patrol. That pretty much guarantees high idle hours and lots of operating the car at WOT to run down speeders.

My friend, I don't mean to be hard on you for the way that you write. But I have to tell you that if this is the best you can do, you are severely limiting yourself in terms of future employment opportunities. If I got a job application from someone with your writing skills, I wouldn't hire them to pump gas.

What school teaches children to put a space before a comma? Also, is it really that hard to type the word "you"?

I'm not trying to be hard on you man. I just have a really hard time putting any effort into communicating with someone who has little to no respect for the English language.

That said, you did seem to try to put some effort into a coherent reply, so I responded. But even at that your grammar is atrocious.

Do yourself a favor: get better. Put in the work to learn how to properly communicate with adults.

This may sound harsh, but it is the best advice you have ever received towards bettering yourself, but I doubt this is the first time you are hearing this from someone.

I wish you the best with your quest to find a good car. And if you are interested in learning how to properly use the English language, here is a 100 page book for less than $10 that will truly help you.

Again, I'm not picking on you. I'm trying to help you - because you need the help unless you are ok with working minimum wage jobs for the rest of your life.

by jkingsbery   2020-11-05
The large tech company I work for puts a lot of emphasis on writing. Here are a few suggestions:

1. If you want people to read what you wrote and give you feedback, conciseness is important. We have a general rule of thumb that it takes people 30 minutes to read 4-6 pages of terse material, and it takes roughly an hour to then discuss it. As a result, pretty much all our docs are 6 pages (in the main body; appendixes might be added but are written in a way so that the doc stands on its own without them).

2. For many forms of (non-fiction) communication, the inverted pyramid is a helpful way to structure your thoughts. People are most likely to read the beginning of something, When we read the whole thing, we're more likely to pay more attention to the beginning. It's important then to get the most important information in the beginning, with supporting details as you go.

3. Know the audience, and focus on why the audience should care. If it's not clear why the audience would care, try rephrasing or restructuring to focus on the part they actually would care about.

4. Do lots of iterations. Get feedback from others. You can also iterate on your writing yourself: I find that when I write something and come back to it later, I'm better at finding issues. In order to do a lot of iterations, that means you need to plan out your time. In my company, we often kick-off the doc writing process with a "working backwards" schedule: we're presenting to such-and-such VP on Day X, so we have to have a rough draft of the whole doc on Day Y, so we have to have drafts of individual pieces by Day Z.

5. Be aware of what kind of thing your writing. I'd say 75% of my writing, my audience is myself: I'm writing in order to work through thoughts. I approach that differently when I'm writing something for review by teammates, which I again approach differently from a doc written for other groups.

6. Maybe a bit controversial in some circles, but: Strunk and White ( It's a short book, and even if you don't do everything in it, the focus on clarity and succinctness is still useful.

by dblknotspy   2019-11-17

"onomatopoeia" Big word, had to look it up. I'm so sorry if I've offended you by my ignorance. Not really. Using proper spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure is really important to effective communication you might want to give this book a tumble:

by thecrowdwestmoved   2019-11-17

Acquire this book:

by j03nam3   2019-11-17

This will change your life The elements of style

by gesher   2019-11-17

I agree. OP should try reading these two books:

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • On Writing Well by William Zinnser
by [deleted]   2019-11-17

When I was taking composition classes in college the first paper I submitted to my professor drove him up a wall because I come from a poetry background, so my commas were wherever I damn well pleased them to be, his only written comments were THIS, HAS, GOT, TO, STOP, and it was only my first submission. So I get the comma splice struggle, I often, and highly suggest Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, (9 dollars) that helped me with a lot of my grammar woes and gave me a roadmap for understanding and developing style. It has a list of 20 something "rules" for style do's and don'ts that were fairly revelatory for me, to have them laid plainly out was a godsend. Its a tiny book you could read in an evening but its a reference not a novel.

Everything else I mentioned just comes with reading a ton of books and sharing my writing with people who are far better at this stuff than I am, it is wise to revel in being deconstructed, I certainly do.

by tdellaringa   2019-11-17

Every writer should own this book. Hat tip to Stephen King.

by threadofhope   2019-08-24

Have you read Strunk & White's Elements of Style? It's a classic in writing English well. It's a short and interesting read.

by dblknotspy   2019-08-24

I'm not one to make an effort when it isn't needed, but I see a chance here to help. Don't care about the context of the original post. You're post "Literal fake news." why not just "Fake News", why use literal? Is that an effort to insure what you're saying is the bye god truth? When a writer's statement is prefaced by literally or honestly my first inclination is to think the writer is trying to impress the reader with their wordsmithing prowess. My second inclination is to assume that anything this person says that is not prefaced with literally or honestly is specious. Less is better in the written word, yes, you did use 'literal' correctly but you didn't need to use it at all, it only muddled what you were saying. There is a great book that will help your writing and really help your readers understand the information you're trying to convey. I've published one book and countless magazine, newspaper and short story articles and Strunk And White was a catalyst to get me going, here's a link✌

by dblknotspy   2019-08-24

Nice try at what? You could have dropped compartmentalize and tangentially and said the same thing only far more concisely. You don't have to dumb it down, you have to make it an understandable sentence. If a reasonably intelligent person has to stop and figure out what the hell you are saying you're saying it wrong. Most written word, news papers etc are written on an 8th grade level, not because people are stupid but because it's understandable. Trying to sound smart is pedant and off-putting, drop the pretence and just say in clear concise words what is on your mind. There's a great book for wannabe writers called Strunk & White's The Elements Of Style that will keep you from looking like a pseudo intellectual moron. Here's a link for it:

by theearthisasphere   2019-07-21

I'm 2 years into a part time physics degree, I'm in my 40s, dropped out of schooling earlier in life.

As I'm doing this for fun whilst I also have a full time job, I thought I would list what I'm did to supplement my study preparation.

I started working through these videos - Essence of Calculus as a start over the summer study whilst I had some down time.

Ive bought the following books in preparation for my journey and to start working through some of these during the summer prior to start

Elements of Style - A nice small cheap reference to improve my writing skills

The Humongous Book of Trigonometry Problems

Calculus: An Intuitive and Physical Approach

Trigonometry Essentials Practice Workbook

Systems of Equations: Substitution, Simultaneous, Cramer's Rule

Feynman's Tips on Physics

Exercises for the Feynman Lectures on Physics

Calculus for the Practical Man

The Feynman Lectures on Physics (all volumes)

I found PatrickJMT helpful, more so than Khan academy, not saying is better, just that you have to find the person and resource that best suits the way your brain works.

Now I'm deep in calculus and quantum mechanics, I would say the important things are:

Algebra - practice practice practice, get good, make it smooth.

Trig - again, practice practice practice.

Try not to learn by rote, try understand the why, play with things, draw triangles and get to know the unit circle well.

Good luck, it's going to cause frustrating moments, times of doubt, long nights and early mornings, confusion, sweat and tears, but power through, keep on trucking, and you will start to see that calculus and trig are some of the most beautiful things in the world.

by DimitriTheMad   2019-07-21

I noticed you mentioned having Grammar and style errors, if you want some help with grammar and style let me link you two extremely helpful books that are very low bullshit for their price:

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition:

This is the best book for grammar help in my opinion, it's especially helpful if you still have to write essays.

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft:

The first half of this book is a memoir, but the second half is absolutely packed with good advice for novels, regardless the genre.

The first book will help you catch those Grammar errors before you go back with another story, and the second will help you with Style. IE your "The elf walked with grace to the door." Sentence and how to avoid Adverbs.

by dblknotspy   2019-07-21

"Arguing with a trump supporter is like arguing with a wall that has no substance" Wowdy wow wow wow, you used a wall analogy that makes absolutely no sense to denigrate a Trump supporter. I'll have to check but I think calling someone a troll is an offence on this sub, I'll have to check. Reducing your argument to personal insults only affirms your magazine of logic is empty. Also here's a tip, read Strunk And White's The elements Of Style it might make your posts more understandable and less likely to make you look like an idiot, here's a link for it on Amazon, 9 bucks, cheap for not looking like an idiot

by mnorton   2019-06-03
I have kept around and distributed multiple copies of The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, for the past few years (lots of revisions of this out there, 4th might be most recent iirc). It's like a 9$ book and the guidance is priceless.

by valbaca   2019-06-03
I've taken the class within Amazon.

Honestly there isn't anything that you couldn't get by simply reading and applying the advice from "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White[1] and "On Writing Well" by Zinsser [2].

The primary philosophy is that if you can't write well, then you haven't thought it through. The act of writing is an act of reasoning.

0. Practice in a strong feedback loop. This applies for anything, not just writing.

1. Ruthlessly reduce your sentences. Repeat until you can't eliminate or combine any more words.

2. Avoid adverbs. Use "dashed" or "sprinted" instead of "ran quickly". Learn more words.

3. Avoid weasel words like "should" "could" "might". Take a stance and give concrete reasons.

4. Use concrete data over descriptors. "+5% profit" over "increased profit".

5. Write in active voice. Look up the "by Zombies" trick.

6. Use the simplest word that maintains your meaning. No one needs to use the word "utilize".



by StriverGuy   2018-03-08
I recommend getting three books and to begin writing at least 500 words per day distraction free (technical, fiction, stream of conscious):

1) On Writing Well - William Zinser

2) On Writing - Stephen King-

3) The Elements of Style - Strunk & White -

The two most important points are concise style and active voice. Both of these habits are critical for SEs to write concise emails, specs and commit messages. You will even see improvement in more casual day to day interactions (via slack, SMS etc).

by LolPharisees   2018-02-16

>along with a not-so-numb alcohol-induced dehydration headache


>I took a moment to recollect the last 18 hours as I had accepted the seemingly random last minute invite to the New Years poker party from a former colleague who had moved on a few months ago.

Is this supposed to be a sentence?

>Recently single, nearly lifeless, and despite not playing in 5+ years

>Little did I know that night would spark something within me, and with just one, two, seven deposits of $100-200 on Pokerstars I would soon be funding a poker trip to feed the soul of my competitive being.