Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.21.16
Stanstead, Quebec


Strunk and White and Trump: The Elements of the Style

Choose a suitable design and hold to it.

A basic structural design underlies every kind of writing, and this is so clearly obvious it's a joke. The writer will in part follow this design, in part deviate from it, according to his skill, his needs, and the unexpected events that accompany the act of composition, which really is unfair, stacking the decks like that, but you know what? They can throw all the unexpected events at me they want, been there done that, I don't care. Won't stop me from my suitable design. I eat unfairness for breakfast. Words, sentences, paragraphs, none of them can resist. None.

Make the paragraph the unit of composition.

The paragraph is a convenient unit. As units go, super convenient, just the best. It serves all forms of literary work. As long as it holds together, a paragraph may be of any length -- a single, short sentence or huge, really huge. You can't stop this thing.

A paragraph, it's tangible, it's solid, it's beautiful. It's artistic, from my standpoint.

As a rule, single sentences should not be written or printed as paragraphs, which is a stupid rule. Who are we kidding?


There, I just did it. Isn't it great? I got a million more.

Use the active voice.

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive. People love the vigor. I have been very successful with the vigor. Everybody loves it.

Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the country.

So much better, a thousand times better than

I think what's happening to this country is unbelievably bad; we're no longer a respected country.

What's wrong with that sentence is so obviously President Obama. Incredibly passive.

Put statements in a positive form.

Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, noncommittal language. Speak American. None of this "chee-choo-sivuplay-enchilada" garbage. When I write, you know I'm writing, words people are going to have understanding, because I write like I run my business.

I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.

Now that's a great sentence, the best sentence. There's no arguing, there's no anything.

Use definite, specific, concrete language.

That's what I've been saying. We've been through this. And it was great, really great. How much clearer do I have to be? Maybe to the thugs, and the illegals. And Democrats, sure. I have to make it clear to those guys. I write words, specific, concrete language, tweet them, which is powerful, believe me, and the next day, everyone is saying, "You know, he's right. He's right! He is perfectly right."

Omit needless words.

Vigorous writing is concise. Again with the vigor. You're looking at him, ladies. Vigor for years and years. And why? Money. What can I say? Rich is sexy. Being poor is no good, some shlub, no one's going to read his blog. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences and our country no undocumented immigrants. It's common sense. Those ISIS guys, they'll run, gonna run like crazy when I win the Pulitzer Prize, which is going to happen. I'm the only one who can win it.

Verbs: overrated. Entirely.

Keep related words together.

The position of the words in a sentence is the principal means of showing their relationships. Confusion and ambiguity result when words are badly placed. Bad questions too. Some people shouldn't ask them because they're not the brightest. And not just the ladies, who I love. All the ladies. But if you have parts that you can't rely on, lady parts, well, I wouldn't drive around in a car like that.

This is not good:

He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the centre.

Better now, the best sentence, totally clear: Ted Cruz is the single biggest liar I've ever come across, in politics or otherwise.

Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.

The proper place in the sentence for the word or group of words that the writer desires to make most prominent is usually the end. Obviously. I'll fight like hell to get those big words at the end. Those other guys, they're not going to do it. They don't know how. Not great. I don't want to sound trivial, but terrible writers, very unattractive writing. Weak words at the end. I have many fabulous words at the end, and everybody's going to be using them, and they love it, the big end words. Let's make America again great.