My favorite books on writing, pt. 2

Continued from Part 1


On Writing Well, William Zinsser

The essence of this book can be found in the first sentence of the second chapter, titled “Simplicity,” where Zinsser writes, “Clutter is the disease of American writing.” In the next paragraph, he adds, “The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”

These two sentences make his point effectively; they are clean, direct. Every facet of good writing for Zinsser contains a kernel of this “secret.” It’s honest, confident, free of euphemism and overstatement, has little concern for its audience, and does only necessary work. On the period: “There’s not much to be said about the period except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.” Just look at some of these chapter titles: Style, Words, Usage, Unity, The Lead, The Ending, etc. Zinsser practices what he preaches.

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