Chapter 2 A Window onto the World
The key to good style, far more than obeying any list of commandments, is to have a clear conception of the make-believe world in which you’re pretending to communication. P28
A writer of classic prose must stimulate two experiences: showing the reader something in the world, and engaging her in conversation. P29
Chapter 3 The Curse of Knowledge
The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation I know of why good people write bad prose. It simply doesn’t occur to the writer that her readers don’t know what she knows -- that they haven’t mastered the patios of her guild, can’t divine the missing steps that seem too obvious to mention, have no way to visualize a scene that to her is as clear as day. P61
Chapter 4 The Web, the Tree, and the String
Syntax, then, is an app that uses a tree of phrases to translate a web of thoughts into a string of words. P82
Modifiers can add comments on the time, place, manner, or quality of a thing or an action, including the underlined words in the phrases walk on four legs, swollen feet and met him on the road to Thebes.
A determiner answers the question “Which one?” or “How many?” as Sophocles’ play, the cat and this boy and as in some nights and all people. P86
Topic, then comment. Given, then new. ... People learn by integrating new information into their existing web of knowledge. They don’t like it when a fact is hurdled at them from out of the blue and they have to keep it levitating in short-term memory until they find a relevant background to embed it in a few moments later. P131
One of the benefits of the passive, namely that the agent of the event, expressed in the by-phrase, can go unmentioned.
The passive allows a writer to postpone a doer that is heavy, old news, or both. P132
Just below the surface of these inchoate intuitions, i believe, is a tacit awareness that the writer’s goal is to encode a web of ideas into a string of words using a tree of phrases. P138
Chapter 5 Arcs of Coherence
As we shall soon see, wording should never be varied when a writer is comparing or contrasting two things. But wording should be varied when an entity is referred to multiple times in quick succession and repeating the name would be monotonous or would misleadingly suggest that a new actor had entered the scene. P157
Three arc of coherence: 1. a consistent thread of sentence topics; 2. an orderly way of referring to repeated appearances; 3. the logical relationship between one proposition and another.
The logical relationship between one proposition and another:
1. Resemblance relation: similarity; contrast; elaboration; exemplification; generalization; exception.
3. Cause & effect P163
A coherent text is one in which the reader always know which coherence relation holds between one sentence and the next. P166
Chapter 5 Telling Right from Wrong
So the rule for remote conditionals turns out to be simpler than it looks: the if-clause contains a verb which sets up a hypothetical world; the then-clause explores what will happen in that world, using a modal auxiliary. Both clauses use the past tense to express the meaning “factual remoteness.”