Notes and Quotes from On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Chapter 11: "Nonfiction as Literature"

Franco Summary:  

For many people, "literary" means fiction.  But, this is an archaic and limited definition.  The twentieth century observed the rise of nonfiction as a respected form of literature in American culture.  Every writer should follow the path that makes sense and for many that will be non-fiction.  Do not let other people's "shoulds" convince you otherwise.

Selected Quotes:

  • "Those of us who are trying to write well about the world we live in, or to each students to write well about the world they live in are caught in a time warp."
  • "World War II sent seven million Americans overseas and opened their eyes to reality: to new places and issues and events.  After the war that trend was reinforced by the advent of television.  People who say reality every evening in thei living room lost patience with the slower rhythms and glancing allusions of the novelist.  Overnight, America became a fact-minded nation."
  • "Today there's no area of life–present or past–that isn't being made accessible to ordinary readers by mend and woment writing with high seriousness and grace."
  • "I have no patience with the snobbery that says nonfiction is only journalism by another name..."
  • "For most people learning to write, [the] path is non-fiction.  It enables them to write about what they know or can observe or can find out."
  • "If nonfiction is where you do your best writing, or your best teaching of writing, don't be buffaloed into the idea that it's an inferior species.  The only important distinction is between good writing and bad writing.  Good writing is good writing, whatever form it takes and whatever we call it."