On Writing Well

Writing well, according to William Zinsser, is a matter of simplicity & unity. Simple writing is easy to follow and is not wasteful. Unified writing has a single purpose; uses a consistent tense and pronouns; and is a delight to read. Good writing is thus a transaction between the author and reader; it defines the audience and the capacity in which we hope to address them, expressing as simply as possible the point that is being made. Zinsser suggests that we should let our personality show, using 'I' or 'we' when possible. In this way we express our personal style and establish a connection with the reader.

Beginning and endings are important to good writing. A good beginning gives the reader something to connect with, and draws him in to read the rest. Endings can sometimes bore - Zinsser suggests perhaps ending suddenly or with a quirky quotation. Technical or scientific writing provides particular difficulties. One way to practice such writing is to describe a scientific process step by step. We are thus guided not only express our ideas more clearly, but also to think in a more logical and cogent way. We should write well in order to think more clearly.

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