Writing techniques have not changed for centuries, even with the advent of technology. People still rely on good writing in order to grasp the meanings of various subjects. For this to happen, writers need to be able to convey the message to the reader. Good writing skills constitute several methods and principles, the most important of which are style, simplicity, and forms of the work.
The Principles of Good Writing
The first section of the book is dedicated to the principles of good writing. Zinsser asserts that the first step to exceptional skills in writing is to find one’s own way of writing, rather than trying to imitate someone else’s way of writing. Good writing implies easy reading, and therefore a writer should consider this. Moreover, every aspiring writer should stick to simple and concise sentences with “cleanest components” in order to eliminate any confusion (Zinsser, 2006, p.12). However, this does not mean that smart words should be incorporated into the text.
According to Zinsser, in many cases, pompous words provide nothing but a distortion of the truth, confusing the reader. If the word only sounds impressive but does not contribute to the sentence’s meaning, it should be cut out. The central role of the writer is to not only write for writing purposes only but cater to the audience, creating a unique style and avoiding cliches.
The Methods of Good Writing
Another section of the book is dedicated to the methods of good writing. Here Zinsser states, that unity is “the anchor of good writing” (Zinsser, 2006, p.41). This means that when a writer is working, he should pay close attention to the unity of tense, mood, and pronoun. A writer should ask himself about how he will address the reader and whether the work will be formal or informal. What is more, the writer should note the importance of sentences in work. For example, the primary way to capture the reader’s attention is through the first sentence, which will play a pivotal role in the reader’s interest. Another point to beware of is the size of the sentence. Zinsser asserts that a sentence should be considered a failure if it does not stop at the right time.
The Forms of Writing
The third part of the book is dedicated to the forms of writing. A writer should determine his area of expertise and decide on a preferred form of writing. Motivation is “at the heart of writing” and plays an essential part in this process (Zinsser, 2006, p.76). However, regardless of the topic of writing, be it about a person, oneself, or places, there should be a connection and no cliches.
The Attitudes of a Writer
In the end, Zinsser speaks on the attitudes of a writer. According to the opinion of the author, a writer should create what is considered to be attractive to him. This attitude will eliminate fear and contribute to the confidence and enjoyment of the writer. An artiste should listen to his inner voice, use his “powerful search mechanism,” and complete the work (Zinsser, 2006, p.99). When a writer is passionate about the work, there will always be readers who find it interesting.
Hence, the primary goal of every writer is to capture readers’ attention and not disappoint them. If readers miss something, they will blame themselves first and return to the sentence they didn’t understand. However, if a writer confuses them all the time, they will look for a better writer. Before thinking about how to sound unique, it is more important for a writer to understand if he understands himself. Style is not always expressions or jargon that allow a writer to identify himself. If the writer is true to his words, his true voice will soon be revealed. William Zinsser believed that writing is hard work. Very few sentences come out correctly the first or even the second time. Writers should consider this and try to improve their skills.
Zinsser, W. (2006). On writing well. HarperCollins.