Clarity In The Art Of War By William Zinsser

Decent Essays
According to journalist William Zinsser, a writer must be clear in order to write well. A writer who fills his/her pages with pretentious words, flattery prose, or intricate syntax clouds up his/her sentences and prevents the reader from fully understanding the message at hand. Therefore, Zinsser contends that good writing is achieved when bombastic language and confusing words are avoided. Indeed, stripping “every sentence to its cleanest components”, removing excess verbiage, and molding words into coherent, simple structures prevents the reader from getting lost in a whirlwind of words and thus allows him/her to fully grasp the author’s message (Zinsser 6). In short, clarity leads to writing that is done well.
Dubbing clarity, however, as the key to success in just the world of writing proves to be an act of ignorance. As history demonstrates, the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli, a foreign emissary who represented Florence in France and at the Vatican, and basic principle in the business world only confirm that clarity might in fact be a key to success not just in the literary world.
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In Book Five of his military treatise, he describes that many armies have been thrown into great confusion and subsequently defeated “when the general’s orders have been either not heard or mistaken” (Machiavelli 138). Machiavelli recommends, therefore, that the general’s commands “should be very clear and intelligent” and delivered “clearly and distinctly by word of mouth,” for this will allow the troops to know where to attack the enemy (Machiavelli 138). But when the general’s commands are open to “a double interpretation”—when the commands are not clear and precise—Machiavelli suggests, the army will invariably face defeat and destruction (Machiavelli 138). In short, a general who delivers his orders clearly will lead his army to
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