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On Writing Well
by William Knowlton Zinsser
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Writers must constantly ask: "What am I trying to say?" Most of the time, they don’t know. Then they must look at what they have written and ask: "Have I said it?"
If something isn’t important enough for your writing, then remove it. In fact, most first drafts can be cut in half and still get the point across without losing anything important.
Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there.
Consider all the prepositions that are draped onto verbs that don’t need any help. Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that doesn’t serve any purpose.
There are many methods for writing nonfiction, but the most effective method is to find what works for you. Whatever helps you is the “right” way.
However, there are key principles to good writing, and one of them is simplicity. Writers often use complicated or additional words to sound impressive, but good writing should be simple with clean language.
You can’t predict what people will want to read. So don't worry about pleasing others.
Don’t try to visualize your audience; every reader is a different person. Don’t try to guess what sort of thing editors want to publish or what you think the country is in a mood to read. Editors and readers don’t know what they want to read until they read it. Besides, they’re always looking for something new.
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