November 27, 2018
6 writing rules from George Orwell
by Stephanie Valente
On a quest for solid writing advice? Look no further than George Orwell.
The writer’s fine-tuned prose has remained fresh and clear. Orwell argued against unclear and clumsy prose in his essay, “Politics and the English Language.”
Orwell went on to analyze a few elements that can bog writing down, particularly in the lenses of word choice, figures of speech, and passive voice. If your writing feels clumsy, obtuse, or cumbersome, these six key tips will tighten your prose.
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.
Want more insights and strategies on writing craft? Read Orwell’s full essay “Politics and the English Language.”
Stephanie Valente is the Digital Marketing Manager at Melville House.