I am trying to find an excellent book on how to write mandarin well, something analogous to (in the English-speaking world) The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, or On Writing Well by William Zinnser.

Please understand that what I'm asking is not the same as the question asked in this post, which is seeking mandarin equivalents to style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style and MLA Style Manual. These two books are reference books that provide very specific rules for writing in one particular style. The Elements of Style and On Writing Well, in contrast, are about the craft of writing more generally, providing a deeper kind of insight and instruction that helps you discover and develop a personal writing style.

I've also posted this question on Quora but haven't received many responses. Perhaps such a book simply doesn't exist for Chinese writing?

  • 1
    I would say at least that such a book is not commonly used. We do not learn writing with such books. However, there is this book that I would recommend you reading, which writes very fluently in Chinese. I assume you may get an idea of what a good writing in Chinese is by reading this book.
    – zyy
    Dec 25, 2018 at 3:04
  • Thanks for sharing, @zyy. Glad to learn about 流沙河.
    – user6832
    Dec 27, 2018 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


About the usage of punctuations, choice of words, basic principles of writing, my best recommendation is 语文/国文 serial textbooks for primary and middle school students.

On developing an elegant style of writing, there is no simple rules such as "use advanced words", "construct concise sentences", etc. A very important criteria is “文气通达”, which is, roughly speaking, sticking to invariant impact of your writing on the reader, instead of vacillating among styles thus making your writing inconsistent. There is a book I konw, however, discussing the craft of writing, in a more precise way, enriching the knowlege of Chinese language and literature. The title is 《文心》. written by famous educationist 夏丏尊 and 叶圣陶, the book targets on middle school students and teachers, so, it consists of lively stories about two middle schoolboys learning literature, devoid of boredom of listing rules. And the passages the mentions are worth reading as well.(/ω\)

May it helps.

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