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What to read to become a better writer (The Economist)

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A group of young women working on a script in Greenwich Village, New York City, June 1954. (Photo by Ed Feingersh/Pix/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Five texts that explain how to write simply and well (Sep 9th 2022)

The first words are the hardest. For many of us writing is a slog. Words drip with difficulty onto the page—and frequently they seem to be the wrong ones, in the wrong order. Yet few pause to ask why writing is hard, why what we write may be bad, or even what is meant by “bad”. Fortunately for anyone seeking to become a better writer, the works recommended here provide enlightenment and reassurance. Yes, writing is hard. But if you can first grasp the origins and qualities of bad writing, you may learn to diagnose and cure problems in your own prose (keeping things simple helps a lot). Similarly heartening is the observation that most first drafts are second-rate, so becoming a skilled rewriter is the thing. These five works are excellent sources of insight and inspiration.



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