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Write to be Understood

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In “Simplicity” from On Writing Well, William Zinsser believes that writing tight and clear is the only way to tackle clutter and complexity in American writing. Most forms of writing are inflated with unnecessary and complex words to look significant. Zinsser believes that for a message to be conveyed clearly it should be free of unnecessary words. Zinsser depicts clutter with 2 examples. The example of a “blackout Order” issued by the government in 1942 which said “such preparation shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination” (Zinsser 8) was complicated and not understandable, but it seems understandable when Franklin D Roosevelt composed the same message using simple and few words.

Zinsser says it is not only the writers writing that needs clarity but his thoughts too. They complement each other in retaining the reader. Readers have a lot of activities to hook onto apart from reading, so it becomes a writer’s responsibility to get the reader engrossed to his thoughts. Poor writing could strain a reader’s mind. Zinsser mentions instances where a writer fails to deliver his thought by providing incomplete information leading to unrelated sentences or uses words wrongly that change the meaning for example “sanguine” and “sanguinary”. Thus writers must take obligation to relate to a reader assuming he is reading for the first time. Overcoming these shortcomings for a writer lie in his efforts of writing clear about what he wants to convey. Writing is tough, requiring a lot of rational thinking. To get it right writer’s have to make themselves aware of thinking clear. After all writing well is not as easy, even though most people think it is.

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