Literary Analysis Essay on Chapter 8, of the book On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Published: 2021-07-01
579 words
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Wesleyan University
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Chapter 8, of the book On Writing Well by William Zinsser (1990), talks about how a writer can learn to write well by incorporating unity. The author affirms that the only way a writer can develop his or her writing skills is to compel themselves to produce many words frequently. More so, the author presumes that if a writer writes two or three articles for six months, he or she would be a good writer for the rest of the months. His statement is entirely correct because one sure way to know that you are a good writer is through experience and writing many papers. The author affirms that unity is the foundation of good writing. Apparently, the consistency in language makes the reader comprehend the text. Chapter 8 talks about the unity of pronoun, tense, and mood in writing.

Regarding the unity of pronoun, the point of view should be the most significant element in writing. Zinsser (1990) explains that writers should decide whether they would use the first, second, or third person. On a large note, writers ought to develop their individual voices when writing. On the topic of pronouns, writers should avoid using vague pronouns such as this, that, and which to refer to more than one antecedent.

Concerning the unity of tense, before writing, writers have to decide the tense that they will use to amuse the reader. Zinsser (1990) attempts to explain that when an author decides to write in the past tense, they should not shift to present tense unless they have a good reason to do so. On the real sense, consistency in tense makes the material comprehensible. The author affirms that unity of tense is important because it makes the writer deal with variations of time. The writer should use past tense to express authors ideas and narrate a historical event. Present tense is applicable when stating facts and discussing habitual actions. Future tense is necessary when showing the use of shall, will, and other adverbs of time.

On the subject of the unity of mood, enthusiasm should be the primary drive that helps writers to endorse unity and readers to understand the text. A combination of zest and self-confidence in writing can make the writing process easy. Moreover, Zinsser (1990) affirms that any mood in writing is acceptable so long as the author does not mix. Some attitudes that a writer may choose from can be judgmental, sarcastic, detached, and amused. The author states that the writer should take the time to establish mood so he or she could control their material.

In summary, the author emphasizes the aspect of the mind when writing. According to him, the writer should ask their self some questions. For instance, what tense am I going to write in? To what extent am I going to address the reader? What point should I make? What attitude, style, and pronoun will I use? On a broader perspective, these questions are important because when a writer thinks clearly, they can write well without any mistakes. The author talks about how writers have to entertain their readers by pleasing themselves in their writing. Furthermore, he avows that when the writer decides upon all the unities, he or she will use, no material will be difficult for them to fix in their writing. In general, just as the author states, lack of unity results in dissatisfaction while reading.


Zinsser, W, K. (1990). On writing well: an informal guide to writing nonfiction. New York:

Harper Perennial.

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