scrollThe Art of Good Writing

  1. One extraordinary part of good writing is to avoid excess, which many writers do not understand.
  2. The next thing, which of course is obvious, is to be aware of the music, the symphony of words, and to make written expression acceptable to the ear.
  3. The third thing is never to assume that your first draft is right. The first draft, when you're writing, involves the terrible problem of thought combined with the terrible problem of composition.
    1. And it is only in the second and third and fourth drafts that you really escape that original pain and
    2. have the opportunity to get it right.
    3. do not put that note of spontaneity into anything but the fifth draft.
  4. The final thing, in economics, is to have one great truth always in mind. That is, that there are no propositions in economics that can't be stated in clear, plain language.
  5. A lot of the writing in the social sciences is bad writing, is unnecessarily obscure. And quite a bit of it is just unnecessarily verbose.

John Kenneth Galbraith and the influence of Henry Luce.

scribeI was an editor of Fortune under Henry Luce, the founder of Time, Inc., who was one of the most ruthless editors that I have ever known, that anyone has ever known. Henry could look over a sheet of copy and say, "This can go, and this can go, and this can go," and you would be left with eight to ten lines which said everything that you had said in twenty lines before.

And I can still, to this day, not write a page without the feeling that Henry Luce is looking over my shoulder and saying, "That can go."

John Kenneth Galbraith: Ph.D. UC Berkeley in Agricultural Economics in 1934; Professor of Economics at Harvard for more than fifty years; writer and author of more than 20 books, including The New Industrial State and The Affluent Society, and one novel, The Triumph; price czar during World War II; Project Director in the strategic bombing studies after World War II; editor at Fortune magazine; advisor to President Kennedy; U.S. Ambassador to India during the Kennedy administration; a leader in the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War; past president of the American Economics Association.

Writer's One | Writer's 2 | texts & writing | structure for writing | criteria