On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

“Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”

Zinsser uses this book to remind writers that skill is not finding the biggest word. Nor is it constructing the largest sentence. The true craft of a writer is to make his meaning and intention clear. “A clear sentence is no accident.”

This book is a meditation on clarity. It implores readers to cut jargon. Zinsser reminds us that we inflate our sentences to sound important. He reminds us that qualifiers weaken writing. “Don’t be kind of bold. Be bold.”

I never felt like I understood what made good writing beyond good subjects. But, then how have writers made the mundane sing? “On Writing Well” has made it clear to me that good writing is more than good subjects. Good writing is good craft. This lesson makes the book a worthwhile use of time for both the writer and the reader.

I admit I found some of example passages from other authors tiresome. Though, I also did discover a few authors whose work I’d now like to read, so it seems that criticism is a wash. I imagine Zinsser would take my wishy washy criticism and suggest I wash out my mouth with soap.

So, I’ll be as clear as possible. Writers and readers alike, read “On Writing Well” to gain a new level of understanding of the craft.

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on-writing-well-the-classic-guide-to-writing-nonfiction-by-william-zinsserWriters and readers alike, read "On Writing Well" to gain a new level of understanding of the craft.