Monday, January 3, 2011

Concise writing is usually clear writing (15) – Donald E. Westlake

Here’s another good example of clear, concise writing. It’s a paragraph from The Road to Ruin, a comic crime novel by the late Donald E. Westlake.

He is describing a university attended by Henry, a lazy son of a rich father:

“At this time, Henry was enrolled in a huge Midwestern land grant university, thousands upon thousands of enrolled students, hundreds in every lecture hall, and all of it to cover for the school’s football team, which was the actual product being manufactured there. The football team won games, the alumni therefore gave to the university endowment, and the school sailed sunnily on.”

Mr. Westlake, a prolific author, was an able craftsman.

The Takeaway: To improve the clarity of your writing, spend at least ten minutes a day reading aloud from writers who write clearly. You will see, hear and feel the stark contrast between careful, grown-up diction and the careless, infantile diction that besets us every day. If you would like a list of recommended writers and works, please email me at joeroy(at)joeroy(dot)com. Ask for my “List of Writers to Absorb.” I will respond via email.

See disclaimer.

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