On writing well: The classic guide to writing nonfiction

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A Book Review
Presented to
Mrs. Crider
Boyce College

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In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for EN102A


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by
Priscilla Thokar Rai
[email protected]
February 23, 2017
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
"Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next, and it's not a question of gimmicks to ‘personalize' the author. It's a question of using the English language in a way that will achieve the greatest clarity and strength, (5)" says William Zinsser. He was a writer, drama editor, literary critic, and teacher. His writings include people and places, science and technology, history and medicine, business and education, sports and the arts and everything else that is waiting to be written about.
According to Zinsser, writing is hard work; It takes discipline, determination, practice, daily effort, and countless reviews of writing. Zinsser's book On Writing Well provides both a comprehensive guide to writing nonfiction and a useful writer's reference. He starts with an overview of the writing craft and moves into specific nonfiction writing forms. This guide includes the entire process of writing. Chapters address a spectrum of central issues: principles, methods, forms, and attitudes. It wraps up with the important attitudes that good writers develop. Ultimately, however, good writing is a craft, which requires clear thinking and hard work.
In the first part of the book, Zinsser covers the principles such as simplicity and conciseness, as well as style, usage, and vocabulary. In Zinsser's On Writing Well, great writing is an expression of the author, and an author's passion and connection to the subject comes through in the writing. The transaction between writer and reader is the sharing of this passion, and it is that passion that will keep a reader reading. Writers often try to make their paper academic with many big or extra words, and often, those kinds of paper can distract the audience. To get rid of clutter and unnecessary words that do nothing than distract a reader is the best key for good writing. It is important to know what we are trying to say through our writing. Simple writing can be a good start for a good writing. It is ok to begin with bad writing or bad style, we just need to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. Hopefully, that will bring something good.
Another section deals with consistency of technique in such areas as perspective (first person, or third person), tense (past tense, or present tense), and mood (casual, or formal). He begins with unity as the anchor of good writing. Unity includes pronoun, tense, and mood. Having different tense changes the mood in a writing that often leads audience lose the interest to read the whole paper. How writers use verbs, adverb, adjective, and punctuation also affects the interest of reader.
Readers always expect writers to start with something interesting, and they will stick with the same interest until the end.
The hardest decision about any article is how to begin it. The lead must grab the reader with a provocative idea and continue with each paragraph to hold him or her in a tight grip, gradually adding information. The point of the information is to get readers so interested that they will stick around for the whole trip. The lead can be as short as one paragraph and as long as it needs to be. You'll know it's over when all the necessary work has been done and you can take a more relaxed tone and get on with your narrative.
The first sentence is the most important one, because it gets the reader to read the next one. The ending mostly just serves to leave the reader with biggest ideas about the writing. "Therefore, the lead must capture the reader immediately and force him to keep reading (55)."
Section three discusses the legitimacy of nonfiction as a literary form before delving in to guidance about how to craft interviews, travel articles, memoirs, scientific and technical writing, business writing, sports writing, criticism, and humor. He marks the change in society from radio to television, and discusses that with the developing need for accurate information. Zinsser deals