How To Write Better

July 10, 2010

Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity William Zinsser quotes

This is intended for the writers here.

Any fool can start a love affair. To bring it to a successful culmination needs wisdom ... and of course luck.

What brings this about are some recent posts I read here. As a reader I winced aplenty. Excessive verbiage does not indicate talent, be it prose or verse.

JFK once observed if a speech does not makes its point in ten minutes it is not worth making.

Here are some more quotes:

It is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. ~Robert Southey

Good things, when short, are twice as good. ~Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men say in whole books - what other men do not say in whole books. ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~Thomas Jefferson

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. ~William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style, 1918

In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style. ~Sydney Smith

Brevity is the soul of lingerie. ~Dorothy Parker

If you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don't have a clear idea. ~David Belasco

Here are some guidelines specially suited for an e-zine:

* write from the heart, but rein in with the mind
* educate, entertain, inform.
* research, revise, re write
* be ready to accept the positive or not-so-positive feedback  
* show wisdom tinged with humility: show respect for the reader and interact with them 
* follow the 1/3rd rule. after you have edited the final draft, reduce/delete the contents by up to 2/3rd.

To emphasize the last bullet, treat your final draft as a piece of rock ready to be sculpted.

Here are more links:

And there is one final resource on writing that I would recommend: BBC Blast.

If you have more queries, feel free to ask us. Good luck!

love people who are in awe of words. words are the sole arbiter and the final survivor. desicritic editor, slave and slave-driver.
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

Add your comment

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.

Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!