Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Notes on Writing: Keep it Simple

From the chapter "Simplicity" in William Zinsser's (2001) On Writing Well:

"...the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that's already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what--these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence" (p. 8).

And so...

"How can the rest of us achieve such enviable freedom from clutter? The answer is to clear our heads of clutter. Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can't exist without the other. It's impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English. He may get away with it for a paragraph or two, but soon the reader will be lost, and there's no sin so grave, for the reader will not easily be lured back" (p. 9).

"Calm Waters" by Andrew E. Larsen.


  1. Nice post. Love that pic!
    Btw, in defense of muddy thinkers, clearly expressed muddy thoughts can be fun to read =)

    1. I agree! There's certainly an art to expressing convoluted thoughts in a way that readers will submit to and believe in.