Thou Shalt Write Well – The 5 Communication Commandments

1. Thou shalt imitate in order to learn.

Writing is learned by imitation.

2. Thou shalt write as if speaking to a real person.

Writing is talking to someone else on paper.

3. Thou shalt not be trifling or tedious.

Don’t nudge the reader. Don’t point out the point.

4. Thou shalt select your words wisely.

Notice the decisions that other writers make in their choice of words and be finicky about the ones that you select from the vast supply. The race in writing is not to the swift but to the original.

5. Thou shalt write the truth and thus shock people.

The longer I write the more I realize that there is nothing more interesting than the truth. What people do and what people say keeps taking me by surprise with its wonderfulness or its craziness or its drama or its pain or its humor.

by Kevin A. Woolsey, Editor of

All quotations from the classic book on writing, On Writing Well, by William Zinsser.

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