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Publisher Description

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

Professional & Technical
September 11
Harper Perennial

Customer Reviews

AguaJefe ,

Great ideas, with a curmudgeonly attitude

This is one of the better books I have read on writing nonfiction. Most “how to write” books assume the writer wants to put out a best-seller or a great novel. I am writing a book on communication, so Zinsser’s hints were right in place.

You can tell he is a successful writer of the old school, because he is uncompromising in his style and acceptance. We newbies cannot always afford to do that, but it is good to keep in mind what his lofty goals for us are, and to realize the differences in writing style with nonfiction.

The book definitely drags a bit mid-section, as Zinsser relies too much on expansive quoting of others. The first third, focusing on the basic elements, and the last third, where he gives some broad concepts, are better. I especially liked his annotated article on Timbuktu, which brought his whole approach together.

If you want to write nonfiction, this is the guidebook for you. For fiction fans, this will give you some good ideas, but is missing the stylistic aspects that make fiction ring.

MrRi ,


For people who should hopefully be familiar with the publishing business (scouring the iBook Store for a resource to hone their writing skills) it is simply foolish to blame William Zinsser for that typo. Firstly, authors don't usually write the marketing "pitch lines" that get tacked onto the covers of their work. And secondly, even if they did...that is the task of a Proof Reader. So for those educated enough not to regard this as an indictment on the author's ability to write, or teach writing, I can highly recommend this book. I own it in print and now - motivated by the unjust, imbecilic 1 Star reviews - I am probably going to purchase an electronic version as well. Zinsser's advice is superb and succinct. This is a true classyc.

BigFanDM ,

Great, great book

I can’t believe the stupidity of those people for criticizing an entire book for a single typo in the marketing blurb. I’m a professional writer, and “On Writing Well” is the book that put me on that path. It’s filled with great advice and examples, and anyone who’s serious about writing—whether you do it for a living or you just have to write email for work—will benefit from this. Buy it, read it, and follow its advice.

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