Crochets and Convictions for Non-fiction writing
From: Writing to Learn, by William Zinsser, Harper &Row, New York, 1988.
- Information and Noise: Information is your sacred product, and noise is its pollutant. Guard the message with your life.
- Obscurity: Write clearly. Do not obscure your message.
- Voice and Tone: How we write is how we define ourselves - our style is who we are! The English language, reverently used, will carry any load.
- Brevity: In writing, short is usually better than long.
- Jargon: Do not use jargon unless it is absolutely necessary. Make sure you define its meaning.
- The Illiteracy of the Elite: Whenever you see in the newspaper or hear someone say that writng in America has gone to the dogs, you can bet that it's the educated classes who are doing the bewailing and the uneducated classes and the young who are being bewailed. If clear writing is one of the foundations of a democratic society, don't count on getting it from men and women with a college degree.
- Killer Nouns: Do not use "big" words.
- Lifesaving Verbs: Turn your killer nouns into active verbs. Verbs are the strongest tools a writer is given, because they embody an action.
- Visible Detail: Writing is not unlike the schoolroom period called "show and tell." The writer should not only tell a story; the writer should try to make the reader see what is being written about.
- Enjoyment: Make the reader think that you enjoyed writing the piece.