“Brevity is the soul of wit and many other virtues in writing.”
I’ve meant to read this book for a while now. A title like The Sense of Style, coupled with the brilliance of Steven Pinker’s own writing, can make you believe that reading the book from cover to cover, will leave you a wiser person.
And it does, though mostly by making you painfully aware of your incompetence, rather than by offering a clear path toward language mastery.
That grumpy remark aside, I still believe every serious writer should read the book at some point in their life. If they indeed identify as serious. The Sense of Style is a treasure trove of writing wisdom, common sense, and in-depth advice on writing. But the sum total of it all might leave you staring at the simplest of sentences, wondering whether you got them wrong.
So, who is it for? Mostly paper-writing academics and journalists. For them, it offers a ladder down; a way to reconnect with everyday speech and make their writing more understandable to the average reader. For the rest of us, the book is a mixed bag of advice that make you go, “hey!” and some that make you g,o “hmmm.”
I’m going to hit that publish button now. Enough staring. Time to do some writing.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please share it with someone who may enjoy it too.