How to Write Well -Part 3-


This is the last post from the book, “On Writing Well,” by William Zinsser.

This time, chapters were selected from Part III, Forms, and Part IV, Attitudes.

Chapter 11: Nonfiction as Literature

“Good writing is good writing, whatever form it takes and whatever we call it,” stated the author.

Don’t let people judge you on what you are writing about. Write whatever you want, even nonfiction. Nonfiction is another form of great literature.

Chapter 12: Writing About People -The Interview

The author stated how to interview people to write well on some of the topics.

“The interview itself is one of the most popular nonfiction forms, so you should master it early.” If you know how to interview people then that will definitely help you in the long run. You should know some background information on the person you are interviewing so you’ll know the general idea of what the person is/will be talking about.

If an interview is going faster than you can write, tell the interviewer to stop: “Nobody wants to be misquoted.” I often think I shouldn’t interrupt the person who’s talking but what author stated was on point. Nobody wants to be misquoted; therefore, it’s okay to stop them.

In addition, “Get him to rephrase his point until you understand them.” It’s normal to get confused on what the interviewer is talking about because you are not an expert of the topic. For my video project that I did few days ago, I re-filmed one part with an officer because I couldn’t get a good shot, and he was happy to do it again. Don’t be afraid to ask.

art of interviewing

Chapter 14: Writing About Yourself -The Memoir

“If you write for yourself, you’ll reach the people you want to write for,” so don’t focus on who you have to write for. Just write for yourself and everything will come together.

Another good advise from the author is, “Write about yourself, by all means, with confidence and with pleasure.” Enjoy writing about yourself because only you know the most about yourself. Put details so the audience can visualize. I think this is very important because if you can visualize then it’s easier to understand the story.

Chapter 19: Humor

Be honest and have some humor because those are the things that will attract the audience.

“The writer must find some comic device that he can use to disguise his serious point.” Everyone will like humor and by using it, it’ll also make the readers want to read more of your writing.


Chapter 20: The Sound of Your Voice

“Write with respect for the English language at its best -and for readers at their best.”

To write well, try to read more writings of your favorite writer. Then you’ll figure out ‘the sound of your voice,’ and will make your writing interesting.

Chapter 21: Enjoyment, Fear and Confidence

Enjoy what you’re doing, what you’re writing. What’s the point of writing if you are not having fun?

“One way to generate confidence is to write about subjects that interest you and that you care about.” By doing this, not only you’ll gain confidence, you’ll also have fun. You’ll get into it and spend time to create something big.

“If you write about subjects yo think you would enjoy knowing about, your enjoyment will show in what you write.” I think this is very true because sometimes as a reader, it’s easy to distinguish if the write had fun in writing the topic or not. In addition, it’ll also make the readers enjoy.

Have confidence and enjoy whatever you’re writing about; not many people like to write but if you have to do it, then enjoy it and make it your own: “Bring some part of your own life to it; it’s not your version of the story until you write it.”


Chapter 25: Write as Well as You Can

Believe in yourself and your own work. “If you would like to write better than everybody else, you have to want to write better than everybody else.”

Try to put your everything in each writing: “What you write is yours and nobody else’s. Take your talent as far as you can and guard it with your life.” Have respect to your own writing and be proud of it.

Lastly, the author gave a great advise: “Writing well means believing in your writing and believing in yourself, taking risks, daring to be different, pushing yourself to excel.” Challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone because you’ll never know what you end up until you try it. Believing in yourself is the key.

Related Articles:
How to Become a Good Writer
Ten Ways to Become a Better Writer

Discussion Questions:
-When interviewing, is it okay to write out and also use a tape recorder?
-How do you know when it’s appropriate to use humor or not?


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