Image by Mark Ostow/Yale Alumni Magazine
Author William Zinsser died at his Manhattan home on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. The 92-year-old left behind one of the classics of writing instruction manuals as his legacy, On Writing Well. Since its first printing in 1976, the book has sold 1.5 million copies, and Zinsser made sure to update the book often.
Nobody ever went broke writing a readable guide to writing in English, especially those that rise to the ranks of standard recommendations alongside Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.[...]
When it came to giving advice to writers, Kurt Vonnegut was never dull. He once tried to warn people away from using semicolons by characterizing them as “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.[...]
Image by Università Reggio Calabria, released under a C BY-SA 3.0 license.
In general, the how-to book—whether on beekeeping, piano-playing, or wilderness survival—is a dubious object, always running the risk of boring readers into despairing apathy or hopelessly perplexing them with complexity.
There may be no more a macabrely misogynistic sentence in English literature than Edgar Allan Poe’s contention that “the death… of a beautiful woman” is “unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world.[...]
Nearly everyone—from the most minimally educated to the most academically accomplished—has experienced at least once that panicked loss for words colloquially known as “writer’s block.” Faced with the glacial expanse of a blank page, or screen, the fingers fumble, heart races, and the brain seizes up.[...]
Remember when television was the big gorilla poised to put an end to all reading?
Then along came the miracle of the Internet. Blogs begat blogs, and thusly did the people start to read again!
Of course, many a great newspaper and magazine fell before its mighty engine. So it goes.
So did television in the old fashioned sense. So it goes.
H.P. Lovecraft is remembered as a brilliant fantasist, a creator of a completely unique universe of horror. He’s also remembered, unfortunately, as a bigot. But the author whose head—to the chagrin of some—provided the model for the World Fantasy Award is not often remembered as a particularly good writer.[...]
Our reverence for cartoonist Lynda Barry, aka Professor Chewbacca, aka The Near Sighted Monkey is no secret. We hope someday to experience the pleasure of her live teachings.[...]