On Writing Well - Part IV: Chapter 23 A Writer's Decision Summary & Analysis

William Zinsser
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Part IV: Chapter 23 A Writer's Decision Summary

Where the previous chapter dealt with "shape, structure, compression, focus and intention" (p. 265), this chapter brings in the many detailed decisions that Zinsser makes while writing. He searches for the right words, often for hours, and the best rhythms. Each sentence must lead to the next, and each paragraph must draw the reader onward through the whole story.

Breaking a long story into sections helps to manage the overall task. The author walks through one of his articles and explains his underlying thinking for key decisions. His lead consists of six paragraphs that quickly outline a trip he took with his wife and a few other tourists to Timbuktu, with the purposes of witnessing a salt caravan and experiencing the desert. He then uses an asterisk to break the story into its next phase.

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