Study Notes and Reflection of Introduction in “On Writing Well”

“On Writing Well” is a very popular book for people who want to improve their writing. It has been sold more than one million copies worldwide, and it was written by a famous journalist, William Zinsser, who was a writer, editor and teacher. New York Times highly recommended this book as “ a bible for a generation of writers, looking for clues to clean,compelling prose”.

I started reading this book a few days ago and totally enjoyed my reading.

In this article, I will share what I have learned from the content that I have read so far, and my own thoughts after reading it.

I have read introduction, chapter one and chapter two so far.

I will discuss introduction in this post.

While preparing the writing , I opened the book and suddenly realized, that I don’t have any impression of the introduction part. However, I have quite clear memory of the first two chapters.

How could it be? I asked myself and went back to read the introduction, then I realized that I didn’t understand introduction in my initial reading.

I read the introduction part again, to my amusement, I gained so much information from this reading! Could it be that I was not attentive when I read before, or maybe my understanding has improved over these few days. I hope it is the second reason.

In the introduction, William shared with us why he wrote this book in the first place thirty years ago, what changes has been made to this book over the years and why he made these changes.

I will discuss my understanding about it over two parts.

1. Why he wrote this book?

It’s basically the purpose of this book. William wrote this book to complement the writing book that other writers wrote about “how to write”. In this book, he taught us how to write about people and place, science and technology, history and medicine, business and education, sports and arts and everything else we want to write. My understanding is: he will teach us how to write in the specific category of writing, for example, spots or medicine.

2. Revisions and why

The book has been revised six times over the years. I noticed an important and interesting word appeared in the introduction, which is “change”.

Change is important, because it is the driving force that William has revised this book so many times, just to keep up with the social ,culture and literature changes.

Change is interesting, because no matter what changes, there is one thing remains the same: Good writing still need old hard thinking and the plain tools of the English language.

The more I read the introduction, the more I like William and this book. I know, I am only review and reflect the introduction part.

I have read introduction three times so far till I write up to here. I feel I can see william and have a sense of what kind of person he is.

A person’s writing reviews who he is.

I can’t wait to read more of the chapters, and I have a feeling that I probably will read this book many times, as I definitely need it, and it is worth it.

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