William Zinnser’S “Simplicity”
In William Zinnser’s essay “Simplicity” he states that “clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other.” He believes that people speak more complexly then they have to and that the key to good writing and speaking is simplicity. In his argument he goes on to say that often writers are not careful enough. They know what they are trying to say but do not know how to put it down on paper. They assume that the reader will understand what they are thinking even though their writing is not obvious to others. He does make several suggestions for improvement. Very easily one could make their writing easier to understand by simple corrections.
Zinnser believes that too often people speak in a manner that is complicated. He states “our national tendency is to inflate and therefore sound important.” Most of the things said are just a bunch of jargon that sounds good. People say things that even they barely understand themselves. They believe that if something is done simply then it is not as good. With bigger words and longer sentences one would assume this sounds better, when in reality a simpler sentence would be more preferred by most. Bigger is not always necessarily better.
Often in their writing, writers make assumptions and they are careless. They assume that whatever they write will be understood by others. Sometimes, however, what they write may be totally different from what they actually mean to say. If one can not think clearly, how could they possibly write in a clear, concise way? If you do not write something clearly, chances are your reader will not understand it either. Zinnser is right when he makes his statement about clear thinking making clear writing. It is true that one can not exist without the other.
Some suggestions that Zinnser makes are quite simple. You should keep your sentences uncluttered with not too many words. You should also pay close attention to your tenses as not to confuse your reader. You should be very careful about knowing what you want to write about and think it through so that it will make sense. Zinnser states that “the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.” He means one should use simple words and sentences instead of writing a big complicated story. A short, simple sentence will get your point across just as easy as a complex one.
You know what you are thinking, so the key is to be able to write it down so that readers will be able to understand, as you want them to. If you can not even think properly about what you want to say, the chances are your reader will not understand what you have written. Keeping your words and thoughts clear and concise should lead you to a good, understandable piece or writing.