George Orwell’s Five Rules For Efficient Writing

12 Sep

I may have posted this before, but seeing how close we are to NaNoWriMo, it begs repeating again.  Thanks to godsavethewriters on tumblr for originally posting this.

From Orwell’s essay Politics and the English LanguageIt’s a rather meaty read but the five rules are as follows:

  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.

Additional Reading:

  • This article which covers Orwell’s idea in simpler writing, also drawing on a quote by Hemingway in regards to Faulkner’s criticism of his word choices.
  • “The Intimate Orwell” by Simon Leys, an article reviewing Orwell’s diaries and letters.
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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