Monday, April 26, 2010

Memoir Mondays: On Writing Well by William Zinsser

On Writing Well by William Zinsser is not exactly a memoir, but it does have a chapter on Memoir writing. So, for that it has earned a place on my Memoir Monday shelf.

This is "an informal guide to writing nonfiction". It is intended to help the nonfiction writer with things like, improving your lead, how to interview and critique. It covers writing about Science, Technology, Nature, Business, Humor, and, of course, Memoirs. In addition to all this I think it offers great advice to all writers.

It's important for all writers to know that "rewriting is the essence of writing" and the best way "you learn to write [is] by writing". Those quotes from the book may sound redundant and simple, but they are true. The more you write, the better you will become at it and that goes for rewriting too. Zinsser puts it perfectly with this thought, "Nobody becomes Tom Wolfe overnight, not even Tom Wolfe."

My favorite part of this book is that Zinsser respects there are "... all kinds of writers and all kinds of methods, and any method that helps people say what they want to say is the right method for them."

Some other great points I took from Zinsser was to simplify as much as possible, grab the readers attention right away, keep focused on what you're trying to say, and if you don't have passion for what you're writing you shouldn't be writing it.

I'm going back over my WIPs now to apply some of these. What do you think of William Zinsser's advice? Have you read On Writing Well, or any of his other books?

Thank you for stopping by.

Kristin : )


  1. This is one of my favorite writing books, well worn and still on my reference shelf. I go back to it whenever I need some encouragement or instruction during the revision process.

  2. I haven't read it, Kristin, but the advice "simplify as much as possible" and "if you don't have passion for what you're writing you shouldn't be writing it" certainly apply to poets. Thanks for the recommendation and have a great week, Twister. *twisty hugs* dani