The subtitle for Writing with Style is "Conversations on the art of writing," and this phrase points the way to the manner in which the author treats his subject as well as toward the subject matter itself. The tone of the book is indeed conversational with a view toward interesting readers in what is said. The style also mirrors suggestions made by the author as to how other should approach their writing assignments. The style further reflects the view that other books on the subject have been too technical and have so overwhelmed readers who need this sort of information that those readers have given up and have not gotten the help they need. This book is intended to correct what author John R. Trimble sees as missing in other works on the subject of writing at this level.
The book is arranged so as to guide the reader from the fundamentals through more difficult and complex issues to be faced by the college student attempting to learn to write. The author begins with his complaint about other books of this type:
Books on writing tend to be windy, boring, and impractical. I intend this one to be different--short, fun, and genuinely useful (3).
The primary association he makes is between clear thinking and good writing, and the ability to think is the starting point for the writing process. While the author does not try to teach the reader to think, he does show how to translate thought into the written word through a process of writing, rewriting, correction, and the shaping of the final product.
After noting important elements of writing in general, the author considers different aspects of writing and describes the problems encountered and the ways to address those problems, such as how to open a piece, how to write a critical analysis, what to do in the middle, how to end a piece, uses of language, and even punctuation questions. Throughout, Trimble does manage to live up to his desire to write a book that ...