Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Writing Well - William Zinsser

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
30th Anniversary Edition
Harper Collins

A friend had been telling me about this book, but I was turned off by the "nonfiction" in the title.
I did some research. Zinsser's book has survived through 7 editions and over 30 years. With is active pursuit and passion for better prose in America, he has effected hundreds of writers. He stands by old styles as well as experiencing new ways of writing and teaching. I decided it was pretty dumb of me not to find out what he had to say. :-)

My friend graciously loaned it to me. Thanks Shay!

This book is excellent for both non-fiction and fiction writers. He's a little condescending to fiction at times. If you can forgive him, the things he has to say can greatly improve your fiction writing.
The first two sections of the book (Principles and Methods) were some of the most direct and obviously applicable writing guidelines I've heard.

I think all fiction writers should also know how to write clear non-fiction. Even if they didn't, this can help with any sort of writing.
(Obviously it hasn't helped much with my review...I feel like I'm blithering.)

The idea that probably effected me the most was what he said about writing simply. We should write simply (not stupidly, but directly) and to do so, we must know how to think simply. This was a big idea for me. Sometimes I like to just wonder about something. (Which is probably good about some things.) But we should learn how to think directly about complicated issues too.

This made me think of G.K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis. They tackle hard subjects and make them simple and direct. That's why they are so quotable.

I also thought of Elisabeth Elliot and some other contemporary authors.

They reach the audiences because of their simply, directness.

It gave me a lot to think about...hopefully, simply. ;-)

Here are a few quotes....

"Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in the moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it's because it is hard."

"Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is."

"You learn to write by writing. It's a truism, but what makes it a truism is that it's true. The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis."

I have a lot of non-fiction writing projects and this inspired me and directed me.

I highly, highly recommend it for any person wanting to write anything. :-)

I'll be hosting a giveaway soon that will include this book.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

1 comment:

Shayleen said...

It is a great book no matter what you are writing. :)