On Writing Well

Version: Abridged
Author: William Zinsser
Narrator: William Zinsser
Genres: Self Development, Language, Health & Wellness, Non Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published In: January 2004
# of Units: 3 CDs
Length: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Tell Your Friends:


The classic works on the art of nonfiction writing are now in a complete package for your listening pleasure.

This expanded CD collection presents William Zinsser's On Writing Well, the classic teaching book that has sold more than 1 million copies, together with a new 90-minute section that tells you how to write a memoir.

Based on a course that Zinsser taught at Yale, On Writing Well has long been praised by writers, teachers and students for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It's for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day. Whether you want to write about people and places, science and technology, business, sports or the arts, this is the definitive guide to the craft of nonfiction.

Part II of this collection -- on memoir, personal history and family history -- tells you in helpful detail how to write the story of your life: who you are, who you once were, and what heritage you come from. Throughout, Zinsser refers to the work of many successful memoir writers, including Frank McCourt, Annie Dillard, Russell Baker and Eudora Welty, to demonstrate how they solved the problems of selection, compression, focus and tone that every memoir writer struggles with.

Reviews (5)


Written by D.K. from Columbia, NJ on October 26th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Loved the first disc. Wish there was more of it. I'm not interested in memoirs, so the rest were not for me.


Written by Frank Shepherd from Littleton, CO on September 25th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Written and narrated by someone who knows good writing, this was an easy and clear "read." The first disc was the most useful, being a genre-agnostic collection of general good-writing techniques and considerations. I listened to the second and third discs out of curiosity, more than anything else, but these were targeted specifically at writers of memoirs, which I am not. Very useful, and at 40-60 minutes for the first disc, a good use of a small amount of time.

A writing classic

Written by Dennis Clark, Jr. on December 23rd, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I enjoyed reading this book in print, and I am grateful to have an audio version to stimulate my thinking about writing while driving or at the gym. Zinsser includes practical advice on the art of writing. I highly recommend the book and audiobook.

Writing Well

Written by Anonymous from Pittsburgh, PA on September 25th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I thought that the "complete package" description was deceiving because only the first CD was for general writing. Then the author covered writing a memoir in great detail. Good information if you want to write your own memoir - otherwise skip this one.

On writing well

Written by Michel A Saleh from Montreal, QC on August 5th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Couldn't finish this book. Very boring... I guess it is for advanced writers.

Author Details

Author Details

Zinsser, William

William Zinsser is a writer, editor and teacher. He began his career on the New York Herald Tribune and has since written regularly for leading magazines. During the 1970s he was master of Branford College at Yale. His 17 books, ranging from baseball to music to American travel, include the influential Writing to Learn and Writing About Your Life. He teaches at the New School in New York.