George Orwell: 5 Rules for those Who Want to Learn how to Write

Orwell Writing Rules

Even in a modern crazy world with its visual materials and effects, the ability of a person to express his or her mind through writing well is appreciated very much. A good text is able to keep audience’s attention for a long time. A weak one makes readers feel bored, brings them fake, badly shaped ideas.

In one of his essays, an outstanding writer of XX century, George Orwell showed five rules of text writing. If to keep up to these rules, one can express most of their thoughts without a risk of someone laughing upon him or her. Rules are quite simple, and that is why they are valuable. reveals them for you here below.

Never Use Metaphor, Comparison or Any Other Speech Trick You Are Used To See In Printed Texts

Do you like metaphors?

Everyone uses “template” phrases taken from somewhere from time to time. That is a kind of a habit you feel very difficult to fight with: sometimes, you just can’t find words to replace that phrase. But the point is about practice. Sometime later, you’ll know how to avoid using them and to create your own ones. That is much more useful than writing with ready-made phrases, isn’t it?

Never Use a Long Word If You Can Make It with A Short One

The fact that you use long words does not make you look smarter. This shows up your ignorance and falsehood instead. It is difficult for the reader to just read those words correctly, nothing to say about understanding them.

When Falkner criticized Hemingway for his limited lexicon in his texts, he answered simply. Hemingway did not think emotions to come out of complicated words. He said, that he knew long and complicated words, but there are more simple and useful ones to use them instead.

If the Word Can Be Cut Off, You Have to Cut It Off

That is one of the most difficult rules. Writers are used to treat their texts as their children.

Sometimes, you may feel that it is necessary to delete the whole paragraph or chapter, but you start having difficulties even if to try cutting off a single word. You have to remember one thing all the time: the text is to give maximum of information through minimum of words.

Learn words, and taste them. With time, this will help you understand ways how to use them better, how to find expressions fitting every particular case.

Never Use Passive Voice If You Can Use Active One

The difference seems to be not obvious:

  • A dog bit a human.
  • A human was bitten by a dog.

This is not only about Orwell; many writers claim active language is much better than passive voice. It makes the text more living, more real and natural.

Passive voice is good when it comes to official texts or newspaper titles. If those are not things you write, use active language.

Never Use Foreign Phrase, Scientific Word or Jargon If There Is the Word with The Same Meaning in Regular English

It is difficult to use your native tongue clearly in the age of the Internet: so many new definitions and words appear every day. Try to avoid using foreign words whenever you can.

The text overloaded with scientific terms can irritate the reader. Jargon should be used with a great care, too. The main rule for any jargon: it has to be natural. Adults who speak through using teenagers’ lexicon look silly. Be natural both in your real life and on the paper. Plus, never forget that you have enough time to think while writing.

And finally, a bonus: rule six. Break five previous rules. Yes, those all are clever and good, but they are not laws. They are rather called recommendations. Use long and complicated words when it is necessary. Experiment with jargon, use scientific terms in certain situations. In context, you can break all the rules and still make your writing perfect.

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