Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Review - On Writing Well

On Writing Well,
The Classic Guide to Writing Non-fiction
by William Zinsser

Most of us were first exposed to writing in school. With this new world of expression came a set of rules as unchangeable as death and taxes. But, as any professional writer has found, there is a huge gulf between academic writing and writing for the public. As a matter of fact, the previous sentence would offend most grammar/writing teachers because it begins with the word ‘but.’ The once solid foundation of grammar rules we learned in school are, with few exceptions, now optional.

So where is a budding writing to turn for credible information on this minefield? Enter William Zinsser, who by the way, also served on the usage pane of The American Heritage Dictionary. There are hundreds of writing books on library and book shelves, but On Writing Well is one that every serious writer should own.

This 300 page book is a breath of fresh air and a bridge between dry grammar tomes and esoteric motivational writing books. He covers a wide range of subjects, including word usage, structure, style, tone and unity. He discusses many different mediums from travel articles to memoirs.

This book is easy to read, as entertaining as it is instructive. Zinsser points out common writing mistakes and offers simple solutions. Every writer should read this book, at least once a year. It doesn’t matter if you’re a raw beginner or a seasoned professional, this book will improve your skills and make you a better writer.

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  1. That's one I don't have, Edie. I'll have to check it out. Thanks! Love the blog. :)

  2. Thanks, Ane! I'm looking forward to catching up with you at Blue Ridge.

  3. I've read On Writing Well, too, and found it so helpful to learn from the way he phrases his own sentences and to learn from the examples he gave. It's a book you can sit by the pool and read. Well, for writers anyway. ;) He's got another one on writing memoirs, a ton of stories in there. (Another pool book.) Thanks!