Open Thinkering


Writing tips from George Orwell

George Orwell

I’ve just come across 12 writing tips based on George Orwell‘s (1984, Animal Farm, etc.) recommendations from his essay ‘Politics and the English Language’.

Of every sentence he asked himself:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
  5. Could I put it more shortly?
  6. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

And he set down the following rules for himself:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Certainly something to bear in mind when I’m composing things – especially rule number one!
(via Clipmarks)

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