A Master Revises

I learned to delete every word or phrase or sentence that told readers something they had already been enabled to know or were bright enough to deduce. I also tried to stop using phrases like of course and adverbs like surprisingly, predictably, understandably, and ironically, which place a value on a sentence before the reader has a chance to read it. Readers, I learned, are not as dumb as the writer thinks; they must be given room to play their role in the act of writing—to discover for themselves what’s surprising or predictable or understandable or ironic. They don’t want that pleasure usurped. That struck me as an important lesson, and I put it into a new section called “Trust Your Material.”

Visions and Revisions: an article by William Zinsser about writing and keeping up to date his book, On Writing Well | The American Scholar

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