Seven Bits Of Writing advice from William Zinnser




1. Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal: Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Proceed with confidence, generating it by willpower. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it. Use its energy to keep yourself going.

 

2. On style: Style is sounding like you on the page, not like anyone else.

 

3. On the first paragraph: The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead. And if the second sentence doesn’t induce him to continue to the third sentence, it’s equally dead. Of such a progression of sentences, each tugging the reader forward until he is hooked, a writer constructs that fateful unit, the 'lead.'

 

Tell a story if possible - 'look for ways to convey your information in narrative form.

 

4. On writing non-fiction: Every successful piece of nonfiction should leave the reader with one provocative thought that he or she didn’t have before. Not two thoughts, or five—just one.'

 

5. On writing reviews: Criticism should be stylish, allusive, disturbing. It should 'jog a set of beliefs and force us to reexamine them.'

 

6. On writing memoirs: Summon back the men and women and children who notably crossed your life. What was it that made them memorable—what turn of mind, what crazy habits?

 

7. On travel writing: Be specific and avoid travelese. Travelese is also a style of soft words that under hard examination mean nothing, or mean different things to different people: ‘attractive,’ ‘charming,’ ‘romantic.’

 

(Source: 'Lessons From On Writing Well' by William Zinnser)

 

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In: Writing Skills