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Publisher's Summary

This expanded audio collection presents William Zinsser's On Writing Well, the classic teaching book that has sold more than 1 million copies, together with a new 90-minute section that tells you how to write a memoir.

Based on a course that Zinsser taught at Yale, On Writing Well has long been praised by writers, teachers, and students for its sound advice, its clarity, and the warmth of its style. It's for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day. Whether you want to write about people and places, science and technology, business, sports, or the arts, this is the definitive guide to the craft of nonfiction.

Part II of this collection, on memoir, personal history, and family history, tells you in helpful detail how to write the story of your life: who you are, who you once were, and what heritage you come from. Throughout, Zinsser refers to the work of many successful memoir writers, including Frank McCourt, Annie Dillard, Russell Baker, and Eudora Welty, to demonstrate how they solved the problems of selection, compression, focus, and tone that every memoir writer struggles with.

©1990, 1999, 2003 William Zinsser; (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Zinsser's classic belongs on every writer's shelf. It's full of practical, no-frills advice on the basics of writing nonfiction: clarity, simplicity, brevity and humanity....The author's easy-going delivery and warm voice are confidence-building, as well. The discussion is crystal clear and easy to follow as transitional statements carefully lead the listener from one section to the next. Most of all, the audio exudes Zinsser's generosity of spirit, which is sure to inspire any would-be writer." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • CalMac
  • CRAIGAVON, United Kingdom
  • 04-16-12

Zinsser lays out

What did you love best about On Writing Well Audio Collection?

Zinsser lays out focal points of good writing in a way that makes sense and is easily applied to writing. I have listened to and read many helpful books on the elements of writing, but this is a good place to start no matter what skill level you are at. Zinsser not only tells you what to do, he shows you. Here are a few other books I have found helpful. <br/> <br/>Stein On Writing, by Sol Stein (if you are serious about writing, get this book, in audio or print). <br/> <br/>The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard.<br/><br/>Three books by Roy Peter Clark:<br/>Help! For Writers<br/>Writing Tools<br/>The Glamour of Grammar<br/><br/>The Elements of Style (the original, unedited version by William Strunk).

Have you listened to any of William Zinsser’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but he did well.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I could have, yes.

Any additional comments?

I think it was helpful.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Brianna
  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States
  • 11-06-13

This is not the described book.

What would have made On Writing Well Audio Collection better?

This book is listed as listed as, On Writting Well, but is actually, How to Write a Memoir also by William Zinsser.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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The content differs from the hard-copy.

Would you try another book from William Zinsser and/or William Zinsser?

Yes.

What other book might you compare On Writing Well Audio Collection to and why?

Not sure.

Have you listened to any of William Zinsser’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not yet.

Do you think On Writing Well Audio Collection needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I would have loved to hear more about general non-fiction writing.

Any additional comments?

The book was a helpful, memoir writing book. It is not what I was looking for. My overall rating is a 3, because I misunderstood it's advertised content.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ronald
  • Encino, CA, USA
  • 07-04-06

Not bad.

Worth listening to. I'm a television writer. I found it mildly interesting. I thought Sol Stein's "Stein on Writing" was more worthwhile, giving more pratical suggestions. Still, it was okay.

28 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Yvette
  • Kirkland, WA, United States
  • 09-03-13

Disappointed

The audiobook description doesn't make it clear that the vast majority (the "bonus" section)of this audiobook relates exclusively to memoir writing. I don't mind extras but as intelligent as the course was, far too little was useful for anyone but memoir writers.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Seonghee
  • TEMPE, AZ, United States
  • 10-07-10

this book is wondeful

I had a hardcopy of this book. When I read this book, I thought I wanted to heard this book. That's why I bought the audio version of this book. This book is great to learn how to write better. I strongly recommend you to buy this book. The guide is simple and easy but strong. One thing I don't like is that this audio version is abridged so this is not the whole book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Zakgirl
  • HUON CREEK, Australia
  • 04-27-11

On Writing Well Audio Collection

If You Want To Be A Great Writer, Get This Book... I liked this book. I mean, I really liked this book. For me, it was awesome. Liked Zinser's voice too. Easy to understand & enjoyable. Great value. I will listen to this over and over. Especially enjoyed the section on, writing your memoir, tacked on as an extra bonus. Truly great value for any writer (or would-be writer). I feel I'd like to buy the hard cover now to be able to use a highlighter pen on all the really good bits. Only problem; I'd probably end up highlighting the whole book!

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Straight to the point

Would you consider the audio edition of On Writing Well Audio Collection to be better than the print version?

Narrative is direct to the point explaining the finer points in proper writing. A short listen easy to understand.

What did you like best about this story?

Direct and to the point.

Which scene was your favorite?

Writing your own memoir.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Philosophy, not mechanics on writing well

The book is mainly about the principles of writing well (clarity, simplicity, brevity, and style) and the author's reflection on different types of writing, such as memoirs by known and moderately known authors. It doesn't provide the mechanics -- do this, don't do this, and here are bunch of "before" and "after" examples. I enjoyed the book nonetheless. It's more like an introductory lecture on writing nonfiction, get you motivated to write and to think about what makes up good writing. I suppose the author did give one advice -- look at something you've written and cut about half of it out. Your writing should be better.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Thom
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 01-16-12

I expected the book ... received different content

Is there anything you would change about this book?

For the past two decades, I have taught classes in which we use the book

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Definately

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • G. A.Taylor
  • 06-21-12

Disappointed

Not much for your money with this title and no clear indication that it doesn't benefit fiction writers. Although pleasant enough to listen to, its messages are just common sense.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Sabina
  • 05-02-16

Really good!!

A great book full of advice and suggestions of other good writers and books. I really enjoyed it!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-14-17

Clear, simple, brief and Human.

Who is qualified to review this book? A scathing review would have to be damn well-written.

This book made me want to write. Zinsser's advice is easy to remember and use to improve your own writing. His only mistake is he says that this book isn't for fiction writers. All writers stand to get something out of this.

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  • Michelangelo
  • 11-30-16

Simplicity

simple and easy to listen to.
A must read for those who wish to learn memoir writing.

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  • sharif
  • 09-09-16

Amazingly insightful, with priceless practical takeaways.

Amazingly insightful, with priceless practical takeaways. Certainly whets the appetite for the full version. It's such a shame the full version is not on audible. The best I've found on writing. I especially liked that this master narrated it himself. Simply listening to the grace and effortlessness with which he speaks, one can learn so much. This book is so full of gold I had to stop every couple of minutes to write notes. You will not regret this one!