Goal, Motivation & Conflict and The Elements of Style

Lots of writing friends have recommended Goal, Motivation & Conflict, and I’ve finally read it.  I think it has some great content.  It would have made an excellent brochure or conference workshop.  It could have been an enlightening series of blog posts.  As a book, it’s a bit fluffy.  Don’t get me wrong–I love examples and charts as much as the next person.  Not being exceptionally stupid, however, I can usually make do with one or two, rather than six or eight.  Why say in one-hundred-forty-four pages what you could say as well or better in thirty?

On the other hand, the advice, when pared down to its essence, is excellent.  Characters should reach for goals, they should have reasons for doing so, and their achievement of those goals shouldn’t be rose-strewn.  All of that was worth being reminded of, so I’m not sorry I read the book.

I’m not sorry I read The Elements of Style either.  This writer’s reference has also been recommended by writing friends, and I picked it up at an RMFW conference a few years back.  Though sometimes strident, this pithy book illustrates hundreds of ways to make language clear and concise. It does so with wit and verve. A few of the guidelines show their age (my version was printed in 1962), but most are timeless. This book I’m keeping.