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Tools, not rules

Quotation of the day from Bryan Garner's Usage Tip of the Day:

There are the resources of grammar; I mean of phrasing, of sentence-structure, of the linking and integration of the units of grammatical form, of the provisions for expressing notions that dress the stage of daily experience — time, place, perspective, agency, possibility and so forth. My own students sometimes look askance when I speak of the 'resources' of grammar; because they think of grammar as a set of rules rather than as a box of tools. But for the writer it is a cabinet of resources; it is the great corpus of possible ways of putting things; and writers know in their bones, if not with their brains, that there is always an alternative.

Walter Nash, An Uncommon Tongue: The Uses and Resources of English 124 (1992).


Garbl's Writing Center

Garbl's Writing Center is an impressive collection of on-line resources for writers. Besides collecting links to resources all over the Web, it contains its own style manual and concise-writing guide. It's maintained by Gary B. Larson, who says that GWC "reflects my commitment to my growth, to clear, concise, and useful writing and to helping others improve their writing. I believe the Internet, used responsibly, has the power and potential to enhance our communication and citizen action."

Warning: GWC includes some political messages, especially on the home page, with which you may agree or disagree. Gary is an unapologetic lefty, and uses GWC to advertise his views in strong language. He says, "I support liberal, progressive candidates, campaigns and causes: peace and disarmament, environmental protection, public education, public transportation, economic opportunity, and civil, equal and human rights." He's not a fan of the current administration.


Pamela Samuelson, Good Legal Writing: Of Orwell and Window Panes

Professor Pamela Samuelson says that her essay "is addressed chiefly to an audience of inexperienced legal writers, most specifically to those law students whom I teach. More experienced writers may find the Essay mildly entertaining, perhaps even picking up a tip or two for improving their own writing technique. I hope that at least some of my readers who are experienced writers, especially those who try, as I do, to teach others to write, will find a fellow traveller's exposition helpful to further their own thinking about the mysterious process of learning to write well."