I would imagine
that nobody loves reading a passage of writing and emerging befuddled. It’s the
writers of the world with a knack for quality prose and a harmonious vocabulary
that I thank for their ability to communicate compellingly and effectively. So
where do these prodigious writers obtain such a skill? Perhaps they’ve
consulted numerous style guides, or maybe they’ve been gifted since birth. I
do, however, know of someone who believes otherwise. In this paper, I will
summarize a snippet from Chapter 1 of Stephen Pinker’s style guide: The Sense of Style. My agreement with
Pinker’s knowledge fuels a response to this excerpt, which focuses on my
experience as an amateur writer. It will entail what I believe to be important
concepts in Pinker’s passage as well as what I learned and what will come with
me as I go forth in writing.
If not always from stylebooks and
innate genes then where does a budding writer thrive? In the first chapter of
his style guide, Pinker insists that good writing and style can be taught
through devoted reading. He claims that keen readers appropriate words, idioms
and diction with a sense for how all of the pieces fit together. According to
Pinker, writers are thought to create quality writing by “…spotting, savouring,
and reserve-engineering examples of good prose.”
Pinker chooses a few excerpts of
what he considers to be good writing. He analyzes each passage intently and
informs readers the reasons why he believes each piece to be of value.
Comparing harsh style guides that remove the enjoyment of writing to his habits
of analyzing good prose, Pinker claims that his own practice is a more
successful and friendly way of becoming a good writer.
Pinker suggests seeing writing as a
skill that is mastered over a lifetime. He indicates the presence of mistakes
as well as the will to strive to be an excellent writer.
The opening sequence of Richard
Dawkin’s Unweaving the Rainbow is the
first passage of writing that Pinker takes an interest in. The passage discusses
the variety of people who could have been living on earth due to the vastness
of human DNA. Pinker first notes on the remarkable strong start of the passage.
He admires the prose for its ability to avoid cliché and dullness while still initiating
a spark of curiosity.