The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase
This is just a lovely little book. If anything, it taught me that all the little rhetorical flourishes you see in memorable writing have names. There are patterns. These things are not random. Experienced writers know what these things are, and they use them purposefully.
There are lots of short chapters. Each one covers a rhetorical device. And in every single chapter, I was like, “Oh, I’ve seen that before…” and they all had names. The author gives examples from everyone from Shakespeare to Katy Perry.
There are two ways to read this book –
- Just enjoy as it fun examination of language.
- Study it, learn all the techniques, and practice using them in your writing.
It would work on both levels, but I’m going to stick with #1. I’ve come to understand that I write fairly simply, and to try and be “eloquent” would be artificial for me. I can absolutely appreciate it, but I don’t know that I would emulate.
So I just enjoyed the book. It was fun, and made me happy to read styles that I intuitively knew, and come to understand that they have names and specific reasons why they work. On that level, this book is a joy.