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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » On Writing Well, 25th Anniversary: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction » User review

A refreshing, breezy and direct reference book for writers.

  • May 11, 2013
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Informational, witty, clear-cut and a simple enjoyment to read and learn from, William Zinsser's On Writing Well is a splendid reference tool, especially for those writers who specifically favor the craft of nonfiction. Written in an easygoing yet private tone and style, the reader will feel like that he or she is getting a one-on-one tutorial from Zinsser. The book, as a previous reviewer noted, is divided into various sections. Part I being Principles, Part II being Methods, Part III being Forms and Part IV being Attitudes; I found Parts I, II and IV to be the most valuable, for the numerous subsections that are addressed within these parts include simplicity, style, clutter, unity, usage to the psychological aspects of writing-fear, confidence, the development of a diacritical voice, the joy and anguish of the final product, etc... Whether you are a writer of fiction or nonfiction, the subsections (with the exception of Part III: Forms) are applicable to many genres, and Zinsser cites an abundance of examples from the differing writing categories. The writing fields are covered in Part III: Forms-travel writing, memoir and humor writing, writing about science and technology as well as columns and criticism. Within the framework of Part III, Zinsser does not simply examine the genres alone, he delves even further and studies the ranging grammatical theories that authors put to practice in their works. In an example, he presents to the reader the use of simplicity and voice via an excerpt from Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: "When I went to kindergarten and had to speak English for the first time, I became silent. A dumbness-a shame-still cracks my voice in two, even when I want to say "hello" casually, or ask an easy question in front of the check-out counter, or ask direction of a bus driver. I stand frozen..." In many cases, whether Zinsser is discussing clarity and clutter individually or the whole grammatical and writing enchilada, he gives ample examples for readers to study. I find that when my writing becomes too convoluted and long-winded, On Writing Well takes me back to the roots, the basics. It is, like The Elements of Style, unequivocally a reference book that is on a shelf all by itself.
A refreshing, breezy and direct reference book for writers.

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More On Writing Well, 25th Annivers... reviews
review by . March 26, 2009
This well-presented, easy-to-read, and simple-to-understand book aimed at nonfiction writers, but from which fiction writers can also benefit, is an invaluable guide to achieving good writing through the continued use of the fundamental principles and practical insights it offers.    Written for both beginners and professionals in a strong, clear and straightforward style, it teaches how to avoid bad writing by following a methodological approach to creating, shaping and self-editing your …
review by . November 12, 2005
I guess an opionion of this book really depends on your own experience with writing. I've been writing nonfiction of various sorts for more than five decades. There's nothing in Zinsser's book that I don't know or practice. On the other hand, if you're new to writing, afraid of writing or just want a reminder of what the rules are, Zinsser offers solid, can't fail advice in an easy to digest package.     Zinsser doesn't lead you into the thorny thickets of grammar: rather he …
review by . October 11, 2002
When I first scanned the book at the store, I thought, "No way I can learn anything from a narrative style book." Plus, when do I have time to read such a book especially when the last full fiction book I read was in 1999? It came recommended and it was on sale. What the hey? I love books and I'm a sucker for 'em.Turns out it's one of the smarter book purchases. Zinsser wrote a travel article that fascinated me, a person who skips the boring travel section in the local newspaper.When I read a book …
review by . March 05, 2002
Informational, witty, clear-cut and a simple enjoyment to read and learn from, William Zinsser's On Writing Well is a splendid reference tool, especially for those writers who specifically favor the craft of nonfiction. Written in an easygoing yet private tone and style, the reader will feel like that he or she is getting a one-on-one tutorial from Zinsser. The book, as a previous reviewer noted, is divided into various sections. Part I being Principles, Part II being Methods, Part III being Forms …
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On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

About the Author
William Zinsser is a writer, editor and teacher. He began his career with the New York Herald Tribune and has long been a freelance writer for leading magazines. During the 1970s he taught writing at Yale, where he was master of Branford College. From 1979 to 1987 he was general editor of the Book-of-the-Month Club. His 15 books, ranging from jazz to baseball, also includeSpeaking of Journalism, American Places and the influential Writing to Learn. He now teaches at the New School in New York, his hometown.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0060006641
ISBN-13: 978-0060006648
Author: William K. Zinsser
Genre: Professional & Technical, Science
Publisher: Collins; 25th anniversary ed Non fiction guide edition (September 18, 2001)
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