Style is a magic wand, and turns to gold everything it touches.
Logan Pearsall Smith
We've just looked at various examples of how not to write. Now let's redress the balance by considering some admirable passages. My illustrations have been chosen to match the types of writing included in the previous section: a passage of instructional prose; the beginning of a student essay; a newspaper article; an advanced philosophical discourse.
1. Taken from Sir Izaak Walton's masterpiece, The Compleat Angler.
How To Dress A Chub For Table
First scale him, and then wash him clean, and then take out his guts; and to that end make the hole as little and as near to his gills as you may conveniently, and especially make clean his throat from the grass and weeds that are usually in it, for if that be not very clean, it will make him to taste very sour; having so done, put some sweet herbs into his belly, and then tie him with two or three splinters to a spit, and roast him, basted often with vinegar, or rather verjuice * and butter, and with a good store of salt mixed with it.
If he is thus dressed, you will find him a much better dish of meat than you, or most folk, even the Anglers themselves do imagine; for this dries up the fluid watery humour with which all Chubs do abound.
This has considerable charm and it flows easily. Its chief quality, however, is its clarity: the careful organization and precise detail create a foolproof guide.
2. The start of an A Level essay on As I Lay Dying, a novel by William Faulkner.
As the title so bluntly suggests, the novel is concerned wholly with death. It is void of any romanticism, and death itself is treated with little religious significance; it is the finality of death in a world
* 'Verjuice' is the juice of an unripe fruit.