On writing

Good writing sticks. The best way is to say something important in a way that’s striking, poignant, and short enough to remember. The easiest way is to write immediately in response to inspiration.

It’s like driving a nail. Take a second to set up, hammer the point home in two or three decisive strokes, then move on. You’ll get better and more confident with consistent practice.

Also, put your examples, illustrations, and applications in the middle. That’s the part where attention wanes and memory fades, but it’s okay because readers will retain the gist.

Put the most striking parts on the beginning and end.

(Sorry yesterday’s theory sucked, this happens when you’re a hack. Effortpost tomorrow.)

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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3 Responses to On writing

  1. atonthemelon says:

    I think the best book on writing is Schopenhauer’s collection of essays called On Literature. Here is an online copy: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/schopenhauer/arthur/lit/contents.html

    Let me except the first paragraph of his essay On Style (hopefully it piques someone’s interest):

    Style is the physiognomy of the mind, and a safer index to character than the face. To imitate another man’s style is like wearing a mask, which, be it never so fine, is not long in arousing disgust and abhorrence, because it is lifeless; so that even the ugliest living face is better. Hence those who write in Latin and copy the manner of ancient authors, may be said to speak through a mask; the reader, it is true, hears what they say, but he cannot observe their physiognomy too; he cannot see their style. With the Latin works of writers who think for themselves, the case is different, and their style is visible; writers, I mean, who have not condescended to any sort of imitation, such as Scotus Erigena, Petrarch, Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, and many others. An affectation in style is like making grimaces. Further, the language in which a man writes is the physiognomy of the nation to which he belongs; and here there are many hard and fast differences, beginning from the language of the Greeks, down to that of the Caribbean islanders.

    He is probably the best writer Germany has ever produced: clearer than Nietzsche, less stilted than Goethe. If you study his life, it’s obvious he is some sort of Neanderthal.

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