George Orwell's 12 Tips for Good Writing
I find these helpful. I don't follow them enough, but they are very good. Well, they are from Geoge Orwell, who knew a thing or two about the craft of writing.
George Orwell's 12 Writing Tips
- 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?
And he will probably ask himself two more:
- 1. Could I put it more shortly?
- 2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
- 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.