Essay Omega Pvt. Ltd

5259 Words Dec 13th, 2012 22 Pages
Excerpts from On Writing Well
William Zinsser
New York, Harper, 1998, Chapters 2 through 4

2. Simplicity
Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon. Who can understand the viscous language of everyday American commerce and enterprise: the business letter, the interoffice memo, the corporation report, the notice from the bank explaining its latest "simplified" statement? What member of an insurance or medical plan can decipher the brochure that tells him what his costs and benefits are? What father or mother can put together a child's toy—on Christmas Eve or any other eve—from the instructions on the box? Our national
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Roosevelt when he tried to convert into English his own government's memos, such as this blackout order of 1942: Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and nonFederal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination. "Tell them," Roosevelt said, "that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something across the windows." Simplify, simplify. Thoreau said it, as we are so often reminded, and no American writer more consistently practiced what he preached. Open Walden to any page and you will find a man saying in a plain and orderly way what is on his mind: I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are

for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervish in the desert. [end of page 8] How can the rest of us achieve such enviable freedom from clutter? The answer is to clear our heads of clutter. Clear thinking becomes clear writing: one can't exist without the other. It is impossible for a muddy

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