How to Write Well -Part 1-


The book, “On Writing Well,” by William Zinsser was really easy to read and he put some good suggestions on how to write well. The way he wrote this book made it easier to understand and made me very interested in the topic. 

For this post, I read Part I, Principles, and I will be breaking into each chapter into its own section.

Chapter 1: The Transaction

This quote stuck out to me the most in the chapter: “There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of methods, and any method that helps you to say what you want to say is the right method for you.”

Basically, we can write whatever we want in our own way. We can create our own method and keep the audience interested in what we are talking about. This is a good point because some writers might try to copy someone else’s method and not their’s. If people want to make it original, then they have to make it unique: apply your own type of writing method.

Sharpened pencil out of Row

Chapter 2: Simplicity

“The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”

When writing, we should get rid of extra words or phrases that are not necessary. We need to think of a shorter way to say some certain things to make the sentence simple. The simple the better, the simple the stronger. Readers will get confused when there are so many things going on in a sentence; if we want to get our points across, then we have to make each sentence as simple as possible while not losing the meaning of the sentence.

Chapter 3: Clutter

The author stated, “Be grateful for everything you can throw away,” because as a writer, we do not want clutters. We have to keep our writing simple and clean. No one likes cluttered sentences, which creates confusion. What is the point in writing if the audience does not understand?

In addition, he also gave his own technique of how to write well: “I would put brackets around every components in a piece of writing that wasn’t doing useful work.” He proved that this works very well and said to not cross words out but use brackets and “read the sentence without the bracketed material and see if it works.” By using brackets, we can still edit and make each sentence the best that it can be.


Chapter 4: Style

We have to be ourselves when writing. If we don’t then, “you lose whatever it is that makes you unique.” He also said, “sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your identity and your own opinions.” To have a style of your own, we have to just be ourselves and let the words flow. Have confidence and believe. By being ourselves, we create our own style that no one has.

Chapter 5: The Audience

“You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth reading for.”

We should not worry about the audience and think what they would like and what they would not. We should write for ourselves and if we enjoy what we are writing, then so will the audience. By using this method, I think writing will be more fun and more relaxing because we don’t have to worry about anything.


Chapter 6: Words

The author repeatedly use the word “dictionary” in this chapter. We should use dictionary when writing and use words that describe what we want to say the most. Dictionary is our best friend when writing because it will help us and it will make us a better writer.

In addition, “Master the small gradations between words that seem to be synonyms,” because we do not want to keep using the same words over and over. Use a dictionary to look up words that mean the same and find variations to keep the audience engaged.

Chapter 7: Usage

We should always use right words, and know the difference between the words that are most misunderstood or misused. For example, know the difference when to use “affect” and “effect” because if we don’t then it’ll confuse the audience.

Related Articles:
Writing Rules! Advice From The Times on Writing Well
How to Write Well: 10 Essential Self-Editing Tips

Discussion Questions:
-Should we not always think of the audience when writing? When should we and when shouldn’t we?
-What is the most important thing in writing?


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