On Writing Well by William Zinsser [Book Summary – Review]

Have you ever sat cooled in fear in front of an empty page or screen? Have you played on social media or rearranged your spice rack to avoid sitting down to type? Or, even though you suspect you have a book, article, or blog post inside, you have no clue how to start writing.

It is writing that can be scary. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great author. In this summary, it will assist you to overcome the fear of gap pages by teaching you strong writing principles, from grammar and usage to structure and form.

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Chapter 1 – Write in simple terms to typing great.

Do you wish to have precedence to the privileged knowledge that will promote the masterful, skillful, and slickly written composition on your part?

Wait. Scrape it. Come on try again.

You desire to know the mystery of great writing, don’t you? Elementariness.

What is done by novice writers, is usually trying to influence. They reach the most ambiguous words in their vocabulary. They put sentence after sentence in their sentences. Their names are weighted by adjectives and their verbs are wrapped in adverbs. The result is often more incomprehensible than impressive. Even worse, it makes it difficult for the reader. . . read the article.

When it comes to writing, it could be adding words, sentences, or complexity that decrease your work. To write great, break down each component of your sentence into its clearest parts. Cut out words that do not fulfill a function. By you, long words turn to short. Try for elementariness.

Sounds simple adequately, right? There is a problem. Clear writing can only be achieved through clean thinking that can be achieved by clearing the mind. It’s probable to disguise a sketchy debate with verbal, jargon, and waffling – just listen to any politician. However, a well-thought-out, clear article leaves the author nowhere to hide.

To write easily and, by the author, it must be every time going back to one key question: What am I attempting to say? This question can be harder to answer than you think, particularly if it’s still working on it. And when she’s done writing, she has to ask herself a different question: Did I say what I mean?

Then she must ruthlessly clean the mess on his sheets so that nothing in his message gets his attention. What creates a mess? Any word or phrase that does not or need to increase the meaning of the written. Let’s see a few instances:

Unnecessary prepositions. Why would you face a dare when you could only face a challenge?

The same goes for adjectives. If acquaintances are individual by description, why describe a personal acquaintance?

Organize long words and laborious word clusters. Verbiage can be popular in corporate contexts, but we don’t need to say that now or at this point when a simple now is enough. A clear sentence is simple to read. However, writing one takes talent, thought, and practice.

Chapter 2 – Finding your original voice is the mystery of writing with style.

Simplicity is the mystery of good writing. However, maybe by you, writing well cannot be interesting. You are interested in numerous articles. You desire to diversify your sentences with a small style – an appropriate adjective here, a delicious ironic sentence turns over there.

Writing is like building a house – it’s often the stylish elements that you add to the end that catches the eye. However, before you consider decorative ornaments, you need a solid foundation. If you can’t pour concrete, the foundation of your home will collapse immediately. And if you haven’t specialized clear, basic sentences then no style will save your writing.

When you can elementally write, it’s time to turn your caution to style.

In writing, like in fashion, there is only one rule for a fabulous style: be yourself. Finding the clothes that suit you best and is flattering takes time and maybe a few fashion mistakes. Likewise, finding your original writing style can take some trial and error.

Just write to start developing your style. Don’t look at the gap page and decide whether your completed work will meet your expectations. This will make you nervous. And when you’re comfortable, you’re much more likely to find your style.

So, omit that first sentence, then the second sentence, then the third sentence. Of course, your first paragraph may sound solid and robotic, such as a drained text from an AI generator. And your second paragraph may not be much better. But don’t be stressed. Continue.

Perhaps you’ll start to relax and discover your rhythm in the third paragraph. Rather than trying to impress with your words, you will arrive at words that you think are appropriate. You will begin to write in your voice and find your style.

The shortcut to discovering this natural flow? By authors, it is tended to be more comfortable when writing in the first person. When you can write simply and clearly, you will sound more natural and less sarcastic: “I think” or “I sense” or “I believe”. Surely, there are some formats where the first person is unsuitable- for instance in a piece of news or an academic essay. However, it’s free to use the first person in emails, blog posts, feature articles, company notes, and more.

When you improve your natural voice during your writing process, what will soon show up, is your different style.

Chapter 3 – Since an author’s tools are words, carefully examine their choice of words.

Their tools must be meticulously selected by a craftsman. You cannot adjust the piano with the key or hang a picture with a crochet pin.

Well, typing is a craft. And as you write, your words are your vehicles. To write great, you are required to select the correct words for the job each time.

Painfully obvious, right? However, when you pick up any newspaper or magazine, you will notice that it is filled with badly preferred language (clichés, erratic expressions, and overused or misused words).

Well, how are the words selected great by you?

To get started, avoid stereotypes. Phrases like “a rugged diamond” or “as old as the hills” are used so often that they have lost all their innovation. It is also a red flag for the reader. After a few stereotype sentences, by your readers, your article will be thrown aside. By them, it will be known that there will be no surprises, well-intentioned, or sudden expressions waiting for them in your writing.

For an author who wants to add variety to his language, one key resource is found: a thesaurus. For example, when you search for the adjective “pale”, you will discover “bleached”, “pale”, “wax” and “spectrum”. However, be cautious. Do not blindly pick the most impressive synonym you can discover unless it summarizes the meaning you desire to convey. Font variety is good – but accuracy is better.

Your choice of words also influences the rhythm of your sentences. These days, written words are seldom read aloud, but readers will still “hear” what you wrote in their heads. The thing that is an auditory experience is to read, so read your sentences loudly and arrange them for tone, poetry, and auditory impact.

When selecting words, it is always best to avoid highly contemporary fashion words and jargon. This does not mean that all novel words or newly invented words disappear. Language is constantly evolving and neologisms can instill vitality and texture in the language. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Does neologism meet a real requirement? Use it if available! Words like quitting, multitasking, laptop, and nerd were once neologisms. However, since then it has come into general use, every filling a language gap.

By some authors, it has fallen into the trick of using trendy words that might be popular but don’t meet an actual need. For example, words like “impact”. When it is enough to ask how a decision “affects” them, there is no requirement to ask how a decision “impacts” them.

Chapter 4 – Provide it concentrated on and coherent.

By a beginner, it is decided to write an article describing a romantic trip to Italy with her partner. The subject is excellent: pizza, pasta, and the leaning tower of Pisa. What could go the opposite?

The track starts well. The author is approachable and approachable as she describes the whole of the excitement and funny setbacks of his journey. However, it changes the tone in the second paragraph. It tells about geographical facts and population statistics like an encyclopedia. She then adds a Lonely Planet guidebook to parrots like parrots, which contains information on which places to prioritize and whether it is customary to tip in Roman restaurants.

None of these episodes are necessarily awful. But as a whole they are inconsistent. From one paragraph to the next, when tone and intention change so fast, it makes the reader confused.

To hold your writing coherent, begin by asking some easy questions:

Who is your target audience? Are you writing for general viewers? Or enthusiasts of a niche topic?

How will you call them? Is it going to be formal or casual while you’re calling out? Humorous, funny? Ironic? Poetic? Will it be the past tense or the present used by you? First-person or third person?

What does it mean if it’s about birdwatching, do you make a point about a friendship between birds? Immigration scheme? Is it the elimination of native bird habitats?

It is necessary to be specific. That way, material that deviates from your major idea won’t go into your article.

Also, how much do you desire to cover? Limiting the range of your article will assist you to keep concentrated and consistent. It is the Moby Dick that is a sprawling epic by Herman Melville’s novel. Still, the story continues consistently as it focuses on the story of a man and a whale.

After you’ve corrected your answers, try to hold with them. Do not go from the first person to the third person in the middle of your article. Don’t begin writing with a humorous, ironic tone, and later on, don’t move on to a dry academic voice within a few paragraphs.

Surely, by you, it should be held to your writing plan only as long as it serves your writing. Don’t fight the flow. Sometimes going halfway is your requirement through your draft or having a blog post rather than a travel guide to understand that your draft is working better right now.

Just don’t forget: regardless of the spelling selection, do them consistently!

Chapter 5 – Would you like to get your reader’s attention? Make good use of your beginnings and ends.

Initial impressions are everything. A man may have a bad sense of humor, excellent looks, and a golden heart, but prospective partners who swipe their profile on a dating website may not be able to see beyond the purple fedora.

What is also significant in writing, are initial impressions. By you, it can be written an article full of bright arguments, humorous phrases, and thought-provoking paragraphs, but with a loose first sentence, your literary masterwork can also wear a purple fedora.

A lot depends on your leader or the opening of your part. By you, your reader can be quickly hooked up with a sharp first sentence, or slowly pull her in with a paragraph that catches his attention and makes him desire more. Whatever tactic you use, your leader has one thing to do: show the reader what’s inside for her.

What is the most attractive thing about the job you are planning to write about? This could be your well-sharpened argument, your surprising novel perspective on a topic, or even – if you’re a talented prose stylist – the sheer beauty of your writing. It can be a sense of secret, humor, or paradox. Regardless, the reader should get a taste of the lead role.

Demonstrated by William Zinsser, who is also the author of How to Write Well, how it’s done! “Block That Chicken Fur” article in its brief but effective opening reads: “I have often been curious what got into the hot dog. Now I know and I wish I hadn’t.”

With such an opening, it’s hard not to continue reading. These two sentences are funny, suggest a secret, and herald an uncomfortable surprise.

From your leadership, each paragraph below should add more to the article. More details, more complexity, more nuances, and more argument. The last sentence of one paragraph should serve as a little springboard to the next, so prepare that sentence with extra care. Try to end each paragraph in a way that catches the reader’s interest – with something unexpected, funny, or seductive. Make this and by you, it will be getting your reader into your article with ease.

When the topic comes to endings, don’t think too much! Stop when you’re ready to stop. Resist the urge to waffle or to summarize excessively. When you’ve come up with all the facts, events, or discussions, it’s time to find the closest exit!

Chapter 6 – By talented authors, their prose is often polished and widespread pitfalls are avoided.

In popular culture, the person often portrayed as a lonely romantic genius is an author. He travels the boulevards of Paris with a notebook tucked under his arm. When inspiration struck, he dived into smoky bistros like Hemingway to write.

This is a very nice sight. It is also totally wrong. It is known that the devil is in the details of true authors. You are more able to discover them sweating on phrases rather than writing them when the whim takes them.

What takes time and practice in prose, is producing polished. However, withdrawing some widespread pitfalls will assist. Here are some writing traps to be careful for:

Use active sound rather than passive voice whenever possible. It is clearer and cleaner to write “Harry closed the window” than “The window was closed by Harry”.

Selecting the correct verb adds depth to your writing. Since verbs add strength to your sentences, ensure they are overloaded, strong, and specific. Do you say “shone” in a place where you can say “dazzled”? Or “hit” rather than “walloped”?

On the other side adverbs, rarely do too much for your sentences. In the case of the author, it is believed that most adverbs are a waste of space. For instance, it isn’t required to say “She whispered”. The verb “whispered” already means silence, and the adverb adds only a mess to this phrase.

Adjectives aren’t also frequently necessary. Names resonate amazingly within themselves. Why define a “cliff” when a cliff is usually steep? Or will you write “brown dirt” when the dirt is usually brown? If the soil is red, the color is significant. In the expression “red dirt”, the adjective “red” does what the noun alone cannot do.

Is it a happy side impact of weeding out weak adjectives? When you use adjectives sparingly, what you use is much stronger.

Then there are qualifiers such as water in vodka – they reduce its strength. A qualifier is an expression that characterizes other words, such as “somewhat”, “pretty” or “sort of.” Therefore, to say that a woman is “fairly tall” can truly mean that she is just average height. Don’t say “you weren’t happy” about an awful restaurant. Didn’t you mean “unhappy”?

Lastly, write whatever you write, write it again! It allows slack adjectives and unnecessary adverbs to be overlooked when even the most experienced writers write for the first time. It is part of the practice of rewriting countless times by expert authors. Practice yours too.

Chapter 7 – If you desire to inspire your readers, begin by inspiring yourself.

Which one do you prefer first – great news or awful news?

The good news is that if you read competently, write clearly and coherently, and escape general writing challenges, by you, competent texts will be able to produce.

The bad news is that you cannot enjoy the writing process, no matter how qualified you are, without being confident in your talents. And if you don’t like the process, your possibility of producing inspirational work is low.

As authors, the possibilities are piled up against us. Most of us are trained to be afraid of writing from the moment we begin school. We write not for pleasure, but for getting a passing grade. We are not supported to follow our instincts, instead, we stick to severe criteria. What takes away the fun of writing for most people, is the school. More awful, it can create a fear of gap pages or screens.

If this has undergone to you, you can forget what you found out in school and educate yourself Well sure, writing isn’t all-time fun. When you read an author like Toni Morrison or Hunter S. Thompson, you will move in the flow of their words. However, as a writer, discovering this state of flow takes effort. Find out to be constant in suspicious or impaired moments and you will also discover your writing flow.

Don’t forget that writing comes from living. Living with adventure, curiosity, and frankness will give you all sorts of interesting things to write. It will also bring a lot of interesting human-beings in your way. And their tales will evoke stories in you.

Keep track of your interests, no matter how niche or off-wall, to enjoy your post. If you make, the prose will be produced better by you. Passion is contagious. Most readers prefer to read lovingly written caterpillar migration patterns instead of a bland and broadly attractive celebrity profile.

Sometimes, however, a writing assignment is given to you that you didn’t think of. This is nice! Dig and discover some that resonate with you. Whether you’re writing about economic policy or salsa music, the material won’t connect with the reader if there isn’t a connection between it and an author.

Even if you may not like creating each sentence, selecting every word, or analyzing every comma, you can develop pleasure in your process, that will reflect on your job.

Chapter 8 – Don’t stick with the finished good – hug the writing process!

Has this happened to you? You sit down to begin working on this opinion for a book you’ve been thinking about for years. However, before you write the first few sentences, the dreams of the finished good will divert your attention. Picture the cover. Dream it on the shelves of your local bookstore. You can see the gleaming comments: “Fascinating!” “Bright!” “Power tours!” Even write a thank you, be careful not to leave your grandmother or third grade English teacher out.

Your dreams about the finished book are revealed breezily. However, half of the book is written in a table drawer.

If you keep an eye on the award, who won’t be looking at the race track, is you. The truth is that the book, article or even blog post that was written by you will likely be wildly distinctive from what you dreamed of writing. If you concentrate too much on what you desire your story to be, you cannot pay attention to how your tale develops.

Is it a way to kill a story? Finish the concept very fast. Suppose you decide to write about the disappearance of conventional agriculture in Wyoming. Not a problem as a concept. As a story? Not too demanding, right? However, it can work with a few improvements.

Restrict your scope to write about a farming town in Wyoming. You are getting hot. Develop the concept. Writing about a Wyoming farm is made by you. A family. It’s a human story that points to broad agricultural trends. Now you have an interesting tale. However, to get there you had to give up your initial concept and refine, refine, refine.

The exact logic applies to all other elements of your story: involving form, style, and structure. Holding too tightly on your first thought of how a piece should be read can hide its potential. Do not link to the magazine profile or article you have in mind. Give yourself time to research until you discover the tale you desire to tell, try the true story, and fail.

As significant as the finished good is the writing process. So, try not to concentrate on the product alone. Incline over the process. Please yourself! You will be a better author if it is made by you.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser Book Review

By everyone, it can be written well. Don’t forget to keep your sentences basic, rely on your original style, and remove unnecessary words and ideas from your prose. What will unquestionably develop your writing, is to stick to these basic principles.

Do not object to it!

You’ve probably been taught that you don’t start with “but” in your sentences. However, this is a rule deserving of forgetting! “However,” refers to a change in your reader’s direction or mood. When a sentence changes the direction of your post, marking that change with a “but” or “yet” will assist your reader to follow.

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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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