STYLE MAKES THE WOMAN
Chi Trib's huge "special report" 7/18/04 is about "one girl's struggle to find a future." It opens this way:
Rayola Victoria Carwell sits quietly on a wooden bench in the principal's office and folds her arms across her stomach to calm the whirling butterflies.
Now. What would Strunk & White say? Elements of Style, you know. Omit needless words (Rule 13) and all that. Try this:
Rayola Victoria Carwell sits on a bench in the principal's office and folds her arms across her stomach to calm the butterflies.
Gone are quietly, wooden, and whirling, which clutter the copy. Ms. Banchero might feel put upon at the excisions, but the copy editor should do it anyhow, because purple is for king's garments and sunsets, not for prose.
Equally cluttered is paragraph 2:
She straightens the leg of her favorite jeans, the ones with the embroidered purple daisies, the ones she creased to perfection at 6 this morning. She grabs a braid cascading from the ponytail atop her head and slips it into her mouth.
Which should be:
She straightens her freshly creased jeans and reaches for a braid from her ponytail and slips it into her mouth.
Enough already of purple daisies and 6 in the morning and cascading things. The 'graph is overloaded. We are newspaper readers in a hurry, for one thing. Banchero is introducing us to 4,400 words, for God's sake. Our coffee is getting cold.
She may have a story here, but it's off to a soppy start. And it's a three-parter. Oh boy.