On Writing Well: Audio Collection

Narrated by: William Zinsser
Length: 2 hrs and 23 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (761 ratings)

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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 listeners say about On Writing Well: Audio Collection

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

Stein On Writing, by Sol Stein (if you are serious about writing, get this book, in audio or print).

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard.

Three books by Roy Peter Clark:
Help! For Writers
Writing Tools
The Glamour of Grammar

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.

25 people found this helpful

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Not the same as the 30th anniversary edition

I’m confused why this doesn’t match the book. Is this a lecture? It doesn’t tell any of the stories from the kindle version I have. With that said, it was a great introduction and has given me more motivation to write more and read the entire ebook 7th edition of On Writing Well (2006). It is annoying and deceptive when books in audio format don’t match the current or latest version. This is the second time I felt duped, just like when I ended up buying two different audible versions of Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Work Week. Audible should make it more clear what edition these books are, and if there are newer versions.

18 people found this helpful

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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.

46 people found this 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.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

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Not a Full Audiobook

The editors took a great 1-hour recording called “On Writing Well” and mashed it together with another 1-hour recording called “How to Write a Memoir.” I wouldn’t have spent a credit on it if I’d known it was only a short recording. The writer and reading are great, but this is not an audiobook and was never intended as one.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

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Well written On Writing Well Audio Collection.

Modelled clarity, simplecity, brievity and humanity. Felt as if I were sitting comfortably in a quiet place discussing a common love of writing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 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 people found this helpful

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  • S. J. Yates
  • 06-26-20

Some great things to consider for your writing

I enjoyed the no nonsense approach taken in this book - clear and simple messages to take away and start implementing in with your writing straight away. A quick book to listen to and would recommend for any unpublished or near to be published author during your self editing phase.

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  • mabvuto zulu
  • 05-17-18

One of the best books on writing

As the title goes, this is a well written book. It's simple, clear, brief and humane. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their craft of writing.

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-18

If you want to be remembered in the world, read it

This is the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" of how to write. That is all.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Julian Manning
  • 07-07-20

The title suggests more than what it offers

He mainly talks about memoir writing which may be valued by those who wants to write such text or improve their skills.

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  • Robert Postill
  • 06-04-19

Useful in parts, unless it's a memoir

this is a good general introduction to writing but the memoir focus wasn't what I was looking for.

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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.