As a continuous from my previous post, this post is the Part II, Methods, from the book “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser.
This time, he gave some methods that you can use when writing well.
Chapter 8: Unity
You need to pick only one tense to use throughout the writing. If you don’t, then it’ll confuse the audience. Also, “decide what corner of subject you’re going to bite off, and be content to cover it well and stop.” You need to know what you’re going to write about before you start writing. You should always know the overall idea first, which I thought was true because then the writing will be organized.
In addition, “enthusiasm is the force that keeps you going and keeps the reader in your grip.” Have some energy in your writing when writing something because that energy will transfer to the readers. You don’t want to write something dreadful because if it is then it’ll be dreadful to read.
Chapter 9: The Lead and the Ending
In this chapter, the author talked about the importance of getting the audience interested in your writing. You need to hook the audience: “The most important sentence in any article is the first one.” The author calls this process of getting the audience hooked, the “lead.” You don’t want to lose the audience so “your lead must capture the reader immediately and force him to keep reading.” I think this is one of the most important things when writing especially if you want other people to read. No one wants to read something boring so you need to come up with something clever to keep the audience engaged.
The last sentence is as important as the first sentence: “The positive reason for ending well is that a good last sentence -or last paragraph- is a joy in itself. It gives the reader a lift, and it lingers when the article is over.” I would hear some people talk about how they didn’t like the ending of a book often, and I know it’s hard to please everyone but you need to work hard to make as many people like what they just read.
Chapter 10: Bits & Pieces
This chapter split into categories. The author talked about what kind of verbs you should use and not use, how to make the writing flow better, and so on. All of the suggestions were good but I would like to share some of main ones that I thought were especially good.
First, “prune out the small words that qualify how you feel and how you think and what you saw.” I think I do this all the time when writing to let people know how I really feel. But after reading this section, I really shouldn’t do that. Don’t exaggerate or anything because the readers will get what you mean.
Second, “learn to alert the reader as soon as possible to any change in mood from the previous sentence.” For example, if you put “however” at the end of the sentence the readers won’t know that it was a mood change until then. You want to inform them that you’ll change the mood in the beginning of the sentence so that it’s easier for them to understand.
Third, get rid of sexism words. “Look for a generic substitute,” and use words that can mean everyone. It’s often easy to say him or her when writing,even without noticing, but try to be careful on what you put down because not everyone will appreciate that.
Lastly, “rewriting is the essence of writing well.” Look over what you wrote and make change so it’ll get better. “Writing is an evolving process, not a finished product.” Take your time and try to make what you wrote the best that it can be.
-What are some suggestions in picking what tense to use?
-How do you know what you’re writing is going to hook the audience before publishing it? Is there a way?