Writing Tips from George Orwell

Countless books and articles and blog posts have been and continue to be written about how to write. Around the world thousands of writers and would-be writers attend workshops and seminars and conferences about how to write. The advice can be a little overwhelming at times. Where to start?

Sometimes a writer will state something very succinctly that makes an enormous impact upon other writers. George Orwell is one such writer. In the summary of his essay Politics and the English Language Orwell give 12 tips on how to write effectively. Here are the tips:

When writing a sentence you should always ask yourself those questions:

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?

When choosing words, follow those rules:

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

Simple, concise and very user friendly.

My thanks to Daniel on Daily Blog Tips for this list.


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