Orwell’s Rules for Better Writing

Today I want to direct you to a dandy site, Delancey Place, which brings its subscribers eclectic excerpts from the writing of interesting people. In this post, opinions about good and bad writing by the great George Orwell are laid out. Please find the 5-13-2011 post for the entire piece, but below is a portion.

“…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:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.”

Author: George Orwell

Title: “Politics and the English Language”

Date: 1946

 

 

 

About victoria

Speak Your Mind

*

© Bookmark Services 1995-2015 • 413-717-1243 • victoria@bookmarkservices.net