Simplicity, William Zinsser (p. 201)

“Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other.”

In this essay, Zinsser discusses what he believes is a writer’s number one problem: “clutter.” The solution you may ask? Well it’s simple according to Zinsser; writers must know what they want to say and must be thinking clearly as they start to compose.

What is clutter?

“Clutter is the disease of American writing.”

Writers think that the usage of “big” words will help their essay writing but they are sadly wrong. Using “big” words actually makes it less readable because not everyone in your audience may be able to understand what you are saying as a writer. It might not be the best rhetorical choice. So it’s easier to just write in laymen’s terms.

What is simplicity?

Zinsser illustrates the importance of simplicity that one should keep in mind while writing an essay. He argues in a way that seems like he’s complaining about how American writing is complicated, and writers should make short sentences.

The perfect irony of this statement is that Zinsser says so much about writing in simplicity but yet is creating unnecessary and annoyingly long sentences.

Simplicity is putting together a written piece of work that is easy to understand, read, and gives ideas to the writers about how to write well.

The Secret to Good Writing

Zinsser states that the secret to good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. He defended the audiences of writers by saying that it’s not the reader’s fault for not knowing what is going on while reading the piece the first time around but it’s the writer’s fault for not making certain things clear.



Clark, Virginia, and Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa. Language Awareness. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.

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