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EssayWriters have a responsibility to ensure that readers understand their content well. There are many ways to fulfil this responsibility as William Zinsser and Kurt Vonnegut explain in their short essays. In this study, Zinsser’s Simplicity and Vonnegut’s How to Write in Style are analyzed for similarities and differences. Both Zinsser and Vonnegut agree on the importance of simplicity in writing but differ in some of their recommendations.

Venn Diagram. Highlighting the differences and similarities between the two essays.
Both Zinsser and Vonnegut agree that simplicity in writing is important. According to Zinsser (12), “good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.” Vonnegut confirms this when he explains that “If a sentence … does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out” (66). An illustration of how simplicity in writing can be achieved is evident in Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me.” At one time, Alexie says that he achieved reading from a simple sentence from a comic book that read “I am breaking down the door” (Alexie 4). Such simplicity he learnt with is evident in his essay Superman and Me in which he uses simple words and sentences structure. For example, he says that “Our house was filled with books. They were stacked in crazy piles in the bathroom, bedrooms and living room” (Alexie 3). Vonnegut and Zinsser further reason that by adhering to simplicity in writing, authors increase the readers’ understanding.

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In their views, readers are not too dumb, lazy, or ignorant to keep the pace with the author’s thoughts (Zinsser 13; Vonnegut 66). Therefore, they should not be burdened. Even with these common ideas about simplicity in writing, the duo differs in their recommendations. Zinsser believes that simplicity is achievable through questioning, hard work, and discipline. On the other hand, Vonnegut explains that writers can achieve it by writing subjects they care about, saying what they mean to say, and pitying the readers.
In brief, both Vonnegut and Zinsser acknowledge simplicity as important in writing. They, however, differ in the way they recommend authors to approach their writing tasks.
Works Cited
Alexie, Sherman, “Superman and Me: The Joy of Reading and Writing.” The Most Wonderful Books: Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 1997, 3-7. Print
Vonnegut, Kurt. How to Write with Style. Elmsford, N.Y: International Paper Co, 1980. 66-67, Print.
Zinsser, William K. On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1995, 12-14, Print.

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