On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
Collins, 2006 (2006)
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Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet
nterviewing your state governor? Traveling to Iceland and planning to write a travel article for your local newspaper? Want to write your memoir? Before you start any of these projects, pick up the book
On Writing Well
by William Zinsser. Over the last thirty years this writer's bible has sold over a million copies. Now in its 30th Anniversary Edition, the book is still salient, to the point, and helpful.
n this guide to writing nonfiction, Zinsser tackles different types of nonfiction articles, along with the mechanics of editing. He offers advice on writing travel, sports, and scientific articles, along with writing in the business world and working as a critic. He begins the book by talking about simplicity, or getting rid of the clutter in a manuscript so that it is clear and concise. From there he moves on to discuss style, audience, and word usage. He also talks about the important lead and ending of a piece, hooking the reader with arresting thoughts and images. Zinsser offers encouragement to writers facing frustration and fear of failure. Interestingly he annotates a travel article he wrote, discussing his decisions along the way and breaking down the sentences and flow.
he book presents an interesting look at both the
of writing. It is warmly written, yet clear. As a writer, editor, and teacher, Zinsser has written 17 books. He has also worked for Yale and Columbia, teaching writing, along with contributing to leading magazines. His work and teaching methods show in the pages of this book. For any serious writer it is well worth the read.
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