Zena Ryder's Reviews > On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction

On Writing Well by William Zinsser
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really liked it

Because this book is such a classic, I expected Zinsser's writing advice to be conservative. But it's not. Although I don't agree with everything he says (which is to be expected), I do generally agree with his advice. He doesn't have a problem with breaking certain grammar rules, for example, if doing so serves a greater purpose. "I think a sentence is a fine thing to put a preposition at the end of." :)

I have never read any of his articles, so I wasn't familiar with his style. This book is a pleasure to read! And whatever stage you're at in your writing career, you will find some valuable gems in here. Here are a couple I found useful:

"The moral for nonfiction writers is: think broadly about your assignment. Don't assume that an article for Audubon has to be strictly about nature, or an article for Car & Driver strictly about cars. Push the boundaries of your subject and see where it takes you. Bring some part of your own life to it; it's not your version of the story until you write it."

On interviewing experts: "Trust your common sense to figure out what you need to know, and don't be afraid to ask a dumb question. If the expert thinks you're dumb, that's his problem."

If you're new to writing, you'll find tidbits like this helpful:

"[C]lear writing is the result of a lot of tinkering."

"There's not much to be said about the period except that most writers don't reach it soon enough."

If you want to get better at the craft of writing, I recommend this book.

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Reading Progress

September 13, 2018 – Started Reading
September 20, 2018 – Shelved
September 20, 2018 – Finished Reading

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