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

An invaluable guide to effective writing.

  • Mar 26, 2009
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+4
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 ideas in prose.
Although sometimes the author's voice can come across as arrogant and boastful, making your read somewhat less pleasurable, I can assure you that only sound, concrete advice is presented here, free of fluff or tiring verbiage and illustrated by excellent examples that consistently emphasize the differences between correct and incorrect writing.
Divided in four parts, each made up of numerous, concise, and easy to consult chapters, it includes topics such as simplicity, style, usage, unity, leads, endings, and audience. Special attention is devoted to various types of nonfiction writing, including interviews, travel articles, memoirs, business writing, scientific and technological writing, sports articles, humor, criticisms and periodical columns.
Overall, this is one guide that can't afford to be missing from your bookshelf if you are serious about writing in a polished, well-defined and sharp style. As you write, you will find yourself referring to it again and again.

For other books that focus on teaching good writing through the use of the tools of language, I also recommend Strunk's "The Elements of Style" and O'Conner's "Woe Is I" and "Words Fail Me."
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar

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More On Writing Well, 25th Annivers... reviews
review by . May 11, 2013
A refreshing, breezy and direct reference book for writers.
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 …
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 …
About the reviewer
M. E. Volmar ()
Ranked #244
I've been a freelance artist, graphic designer, editor, and translator for over 15 years, and I love and greatly enjoy my job. Although my biggest passion is art and languages, I am interested in … more
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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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