On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction
On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts...more
￼Clutter. Clutter is the disease of writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon. Our tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important. But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb which carries the same meaning that is already in the verb, every passive con...more
The best part of On Writing Well focuses on“trimming the fat in the sentences you write. Zinsser provides a hand-edited page of his own On Writing Well manuscript as an example of how to cut down on useless words, and it is tru...more
Zinsser illustrates many of his points through the use of personal anecdotes and examples culled from writers of different disciplin...more
Books on writing can be intimidating but this books is charming and makes me want to read more and more. This book is written "well" by a man who knows how to "Write Well."
It is by no means a compliment to tell Zinser that anybody can write and we all can take up writing on the side. No. Writing is a craft rather than an art and we have to work at it. Our writing should be simple and clutter-free. Clear thinking becomes clear writing. Therefore, to write is always to rewrite over and over and o...more
When did I read it? Well, I would have to think back and I can figure it out but it will take a while and I would rather be reading than go down that particular "memory lane."
Five stars indicates what I thought of this book and glad to know that it's contents are still valid today.
If someone is going to presume to teach us to write, I think we can all agree that he’d better be pretty darn good at it himself. And in On Writing Well, we’re treated to that kind of a teacher—Zinsser clearly practices, and so we settle down into our pews and let him preach. His writing seems as if it just came gliding out of his pen—effortless and conversational, full of unselfconscious grace and sparkling with wry wit—but lest we stand too much in awe...more
Witty, concise, and informative, the first two parts on "Principles" and "Methods" are brilliant. These parts, however, constitute 30% of the book. The rest of the book - that is, 70% - is uneven and can be skipped without missing out on anything important.
The only chapters I found worth reading are those on "Science and Technology," "Business Writing," and "Writing About Arts," all of which are in Part III. Other than these, none of the chapters say anything that hasn'...more
The book is divided into four parts...
1. The Principles of Writing: If you can m...more
Zissner doesn't waste time with schmaltzy examples of how to formulate plots and manufacture characters, but instead focuses on clarity, grammar, story structure and how to ho...more
POLONIUS [personified as rambling bad writing]
This business is well ended.
My liege and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it, for, to define true madness,
What is ’t but to be nothing e...more
Second only to The Elements of Style, this is the best book ever written for writers. In many ways, it's better than Strunk and White, which tends to focus on grammar and the actual mechanics of writing as opposed to how a writer should think and approach things. The book focuses on nonfiction, but many (if not most) of the principles apply equally to any style of writing. Even chapters on things like how to do an interview offer valuable insights into what you're lookin...more
I had no expectations when I borrowed a thirty-year old edition of William Zinsser’s “On Writing...more
According to Zinsser, and perhaps countless writers, writing is hard work. It is no easy task to produce good and original content regularly. It takes d...more
The book is geared specifically for non-fiction writers. Some parts will be irrelevant for fiction writers...more
In his books, Zinsser emphasizes word economy. Author James J. Kilpatrick, in his book The Writer's Art sa...more