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On Writing Well (1976)

de William Zinsser

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5,581681,378 (4.13)97
On Writing Well, which grew out of a course that William Zinsser taught at Yale, has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity, and for the warmth of its style. It is a book for anybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts, or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you both fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished practitioner. How to Write a Memoir tells you how to write the story of your life. Everyone has a story - whether you're a professional writer or just want to validate your personal and family reminiscences, William Zinsser explains how to do it, and do it well.… (més)
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» Mira també 97 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 67 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I first read this book over ten years ago and I still come back to it often. It's life-changing. The expression "it should be mandatory reading" is overused, but in this case I can't think of a better summary. I have been juggling government work and academic research for fifteen years now, and both of those environments can degrade your writing to the point of ridiculousness ("stakeholders", "has been found to be", etc). This book is a form of damage control; it helps me keep my writing minimally sane and comprehensible. Buy it, read it, apply it, re-read it, recommend it to your friends and coworkers, buy several copies and gift them to everyone you care about.

This is my favorite excerpt:

"…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 that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what - these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence. And they usually occur in proportion to education and rank." ( )
  marzagao | Jun 1, 2021 |
I've reviewed this book in full here: https://niklas.reviews/2021/04/29/on-writing-well/ ( )
  pivic | Apr 29, 2021 |
It is targeted at non-fiction writing, but Zinsser has a lot of tips that can readily apply to fiction writing as well. Easily a book of reference I could see myself returning to for a refresher course on the finer points of crafting stories. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
This is a classic that I have just discovered. The book was written many years ago, but has been updated.

It focuses on non-fiction writing and has lots of great guidelines plus great advice.

My favorite piece of advice was - if you are having difficulty with re-writing a sentence, try deleting it and see what the effect is.

The basic tenet of the book is that writing is re-writing. No one gets it right first time, so be prepared for re-writing and re-writing.

I know from personal experience that I can improve existing writing - but a blank page is hard to edit.

It has specialist sections on most popular types of non-fiction writing. I skipped a few that I don't write about e.g. Sport.

Highly recommend.

If you are interest in fiction writing check out Stephen Kings' (yes THE Stephen King) classic - On Writing. ( )
  Neale | Jan 5, 2021 |
I'm writing a math book, and after I published the first few chapters, someone offered to buy me a copy of this book. It's a nice gesture if you don't think very hard about it.

Anyway, on to the book. It's got some good points: write for yourself, ruthlessly trim prose, and decide on a consistent tone before getting started. That's it; now you don't need to buy this book as I did.

Zinsser goes on several tirades about the sanctity of language, about how he refuses to use any neologisms, and so too should you. The book suddenly begins to show its age; none of his examples were words I had ever considered to be problematic. Maybe "trek" was once contested, but finds itself safely ensconced in the language today.

The majority of "On Writing Well" is "how to write newspaper articles about topic X." Business, news, artistic reviews, you name it. I briefly skimmed over the science section, thinking it might be helpful in my pursuits. It wasn't. Zinsser takes the viewpoint that science is scary, audiences don't care, and so a writer must do ones best to handhold the reader along. Science reporting at its finest.

In conclusion, I learned a few things, but it wasn't worth my $14. Guess I should have let that guy buy it for me instead. ( )
  isovector | Dec 13, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 67 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Not since "The Elements of Style" has there been a guide to writing as well presented and readable as this one. A love and respect for the language is evident on every page.
afegit per ArrowStead | editaLibrary Journal
 
"On Writing Well" is a bible for a generation of writers looking for clues to clean, compelling prose.
afegit per ArrowStead | editaNew York Times
 
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[Introduction] One of the pictures hanging in my office in mid-Manhattan is a photograph of the writer E. B. White.
A school in Connecticut once held "a day devoted to the arts," and I was asked if I would come and talk about writing as a vocation.
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On Writing Well, which grew out of a course that William Zinsser taught at Yale, has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity, and for the warmth of its style. It is a book for anybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts, or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you both fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished practitioner. How to Write a Memoir tells you how to write the story of your life. Everyone has a story - whether you're a professional writer or just want to validate your personal and family reminiscences, William Zinsser explains how to do it, and do it well.

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