Random Blog Post #10 – Writing Tips from the Masters

We can always learn from the masters, today we have tips from George Orwell.

An English novelist, essayist, and journalist, George Orwell is responsible for two of my favorite books, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, along with many other great pieces focusing on social injustice. He has great form and finesse with his writing, and in his essay Politics and the English Language, Orwell gives us his six questions and six rules to writing a well constructed sentence.

George Orwell’s 6 Questions and 6 Rules

George-Orwell-001A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

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:

5. Could I put it more shortly?

6. 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.


Who do you look to for writing tips?

– Nahuel F.A.

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