“On Writing Well” is the book that came from a course taught by William Zinsser at Yale University, and has been praised for its wise advice, clarity, and warmth of style.
This is a book for anyone who wants to learn to write or feels the need to write, no matter what topic. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts, or yourself, On Writing Well gives you both the fundamentals and the insights of a distinguished professional.
Whether you are a professional writer or simply want to put your personal and family experiences in writing, William Zinsser explains how to do it properly.
Literature and Theology: the connection
There is an intimate connection between the theology (in the broadest sense of the term, as understood in the belief of ASH = Spirituality/Philosophy/Truth Seeking) that is dealt with in this site and literature. Each Biblical text has its own different style, yet one thing all Holy Scriptures have in common: they know how to get right to the Soul, to stay there.
Dealing with such complex topics is a job that requires time and training, and this treatise by William Knowlton Zinsser is just like a manual for those who want to improve themselves. The professor clearly illustrates how to improve the way you express yourself, and you will find very useful advice for anyone who loves to write.
A book to read for sure and in this article Abrahamic Study Hall will try to put together some pills of this great work.
William Knowlton Zinsser (October 7, 1922 – May 12, 2015) was an American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher. He began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked as a writer, theater editor, film critic, and editorial writer.
Zinsser taught writing at Yale University, and served as executive editor of the Book-of-the-Month Club from 1979 to 1987. He retired from teaching at the New School and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism due to advancing glaucoma.
His 18 books include in addition to On Writing Well (in its 30th edition) Writing to Learn; Writing with a Word Processor; Mitchell & Ruff; Spring Training; American Places; Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs; Writing About Your Life; and most recently, Writing Places, an autobiography. The American Scholar ran William Zinsser’s weekly web publication, “Zinsser on Friday,” featuring his short essays on writing, the arts, and popular culture.
In his books, Zinsser emphasizes the word “economy.” Author James J. Kilpatrick, in his book The Writer’s Art, says that if he were limited to one book on how to write, it would be William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and adds, “Zinsser’s solid theory is that ‘writing improves in direct relation to the number of things we can keep out of it.”
Quotes: On Writing Well
“Ci sono molti buoni motivi per scrivere che non hanno nulla a che fare con l’essere pubblicati. La scrittura è un potente meccanismo di ricerca e una delle sue soddisfazioni è fare i conti con la narrativa della tua vita. Un altro è affrontare alcuni dei momenti più duri della vita: perdita, dolore, malattia, dipendenza, delusione, fallimento, e trovare comprensione e conforto”.“Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”
Times like these test men’s souls.
How hard it is to live in these times!
These are trying times for the souls of men.
From the soul’s point of view, these are trying times.
Paine’s sentence is like poetry and the other four are like oatmeal, which is the divine mystery of the creative process. Good prose writers must be part poet, always listening to what they write. EB White is one of my favorite stylists because I am aware that I am with a man who cares about the cadences and sounds of language. I love (in my ear) the pattern his words make as they fall into a sentence. I try to speculate how in rewriting the sentence he reassembled it to end with a phrase that will linger momentarily, or how he chose one word over another because he was looking for some emotional weight. It is the difference between, say, “serene” and “tranquil,” one so soft, the other strangely unsettling because of the unusual n and q.
Such considerations of sound and rhythm should go into everything you write. If all your sentences move at the same labored gait, which you too recognize as mortal but don’t know how to cure, read them aloud. (I write entirely by ear and read everything out loud before letting it out into the world.) You’ll begin to hear where the problem lies. See if you can get variety by reversing the order of a sentence, or substituting a word that has freshness or strangeness, or altering the length of your sentences so they don’t all sound like they came out of the same machine. An occasional short sentence can pack a tremendous punch. It stays in the reader’s ear.”