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On Writing Well

Outline of book discussion for "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser.

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On Writing Well

  1. 1. On Writing Well The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction By William Zinsser Book discussion led by Bette Miles-Holleman
  2. 2. Part 1: Principles <ul><li>The Transaction </li></ul><ul><li>Simplicity </li></ul><ul><li>Clutter </li></ul><ul><li>Style </li></ul><ul><li>The Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Words </li></ul><ul><li>Usage </li></ul>
  3. 3. Highlights: Part 1 <ul><li>Any writing method that helps you say what you want to say is the right method for you. </li></ul><ul><li>Simplify: strip every sentence to its cleanest components. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing is an act of ego; believe in your identity and opinions. </li></ul><ul><li>Write for an audience of one: yourself. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Highlights: Part 1 (continued) <ul><li>Care deeply about words. Get a good dictionary and thesaurus. Use them. </li></ul><ul><li>Words are the only tools you’ve got- use them with originality and care. </li></ul><ul><li>Usage is relative. Separate usage from jargon. </li></ul><ul><li>Use good words to express yourself clearly and simply to others. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Part 2: Methods <ul><li>Unity </li></ul><ul><li>The Lead and the Ending </li></ul><ul><li>Bits & Pieces: includes nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, qualifiers, punctuation, contractions, overstatement, credibility, paragraphs, sexism, rewrites </li></ul>
  6. 6. Highlights: Part 2 <ul><li>You learn to write by writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing is a question of problem solving. </li></ul><ul><li>Unity (of pronoun, tense & mood) is the anchor of good writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Think small, choose a subject, cover it well and stop. </li></ul><ul><li>The first sentence is the most important. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Highlights: Part 2 (continued) <ul><li>Capture the reader. Force him to keep reading. </li></ul><ul><li>Look everywhere for material. Always collect more than you will use. </li></ul><ul><li>When you’re ready to stop, stop! </li></ul><ul><li>Make careful study & use of parts of speech, grammar, punctuation, writing rules. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Part 3: Forms <ul><li>Nonfiction as Literature </li></ul><ul><li>Writing About People: The Interview </li></ul><ul><li>Writing About Places: The Travel Article </li></ul><ul><li>Writing About Yourself: The Memoir </li></ul><ul><li>Science and Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Business Writing: Writing In Your Job </li></ul><ul><li>Sports </li></ul><ul><li>Writing About The Arts: Critics & Columnists </li></ul><ul><li>Humor </li></ul>
  9. 9. Highlights: Part 3 <ul><li>Nonfiction is what is sold, published and read in the current market. </li></ul><ul><li>When interviewing someone, get them talking. Use their words, not yours. </li></ul><ul><li>Observe closely, interview in depth. Write well. </li></ul><ul><li>Be yourself when you write. </li></ul><ul><li>Humor is the secret weapon of the nonfiction writer. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Part 4: Attitudes <ul><li>The Sound Of Your Voice </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoyment, Fear and Confidence </li></ul><ul><li>The Tyranny Of The Final Product </li></ul><ul><li>A Writer’s Decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Family History and Memoir </li></ul><ul><li>Write As Well As You Can </li></ul>
  11. 11. Highlights: Part 4 <ul><li>Develop one voice readers will recognize. Don’t alter your voice to fit the subject. </li></ul><ul><li>Writers who write interesting things keep themselves interested. Learning is a tonic. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing is related to character. Sound values = sound writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Work with humanity and integrity. </li></ul><ul><li>The product is you. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Learn More <ul><li>Visit my Squidoo lens: http://www.squidoo.com/onwritingwell </li></ul><ul><li>American Scholar.org: Visions and Revisions http://www.theamericanscholar.org/visions-and-revisions/ </li></ul>