A. Here’s the problem:
If there is one temple of writing at which I worship above all others, it is at the altar of clarity. My head hurts when I read sentences whose meanings aren’t clear, while my blood races just a little faster when I read sentences which ring in my mind as clear as bells. Think of it this way. The goal of good writing isn’t to write clearly enough to make your meaning understood; it’s to write so clearly that your meaning can’t be misunderstood. Strunk and White put the matter succinctly: “When you say something, make sure you have said it” (80).
B. What to do:
You must become the sworn enemy of confusion, ambiguity, and murk in your writing. You must root them out relentlessly and destroy them ruthlessly. Murk is an infectious disease; don’t let yourself catch it. Break longer sentences in two; replace gibberish with meaning; use more precise words; drag yourself out of the quicksand of unrestrained subordinate clauses.
C. Example: Mr. Bennet greatly respects Elizabeth’s views on love and marriage, rather than his wife, who is disappointed in her daughter’s lack of the traditional role of women and marriage.
Corrected Version: Mr. Bennet greatly respects Elizabeth’s views on love and marriage; Mrs. Bennet, on the other hand, is disappointed in her daughter’s disregard of the traditional role of women and marriage.
D. Now you try—write corrected versions of the following sentences.
1. She realized she was wrong about him and the irony of how she had treted him.
2. I do not know why Darcy would still be in love with Elizabeth after the rejection, because he loved her so much I hoped that Darcy would change his upper class ways.
E. For more information or additional practice, check the following source:
Strunk & White, pp. 79-80