JK Galbraith on the art of good writing

“One extraordinary part of good writing is to avoid excess, which many writers do not understand.

“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. How successfully and how one does that, I don’t know. But certainly it is something that has always been a concern of mine. I worked on it very hard in one of my first widely read books, The Great Crash of 1929, and I was enormously pleased when it was so reviewed. The Great Crash is an ambiguous title, I must say, one should always watch titles. I saw this many times. I looked once to see if a copy was in the LaGuardia Airport bookstore in New York and the lady there said, “That’s not a title you could sell in an airport.”

“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. And it is only in the second and third and fourth drafts that you really escape that original pain and have the opportunity to get it right. Again, I’m repeating myself; I’ve said many times that I do not put that note of spontaneity that my critics like into anything but the fifth draft. It may have a slightly artificial sound as a consequence of that.

“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. There just aren’t.”

The above is an excerpt [paragraph breaks are mine]. The full interview is here. From the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: “John Kenneth Galbraith is one of the most widely read economists in the United States. One reason is that he writes so well.”