The golden rule(s)for writers

This one’s for the journalists. While we’re on the topic of George Orwell and the book that my colleague so wisely lent me (and because I’ve been reading a lot of things lately that just aren’t quite up to some people’s exacting standards), allow me to reproduce (with great respect to the man himself) his five rules of English writing, which are so often broken–rather, pulverized–with impunity…

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 word will do. (I love this one. When you bend over backwards to use long words, you don’t sound smart at all but rather pretentious and silly.)

3) If it’s possible to cut a word out, *always cut it out.*

4) Never use the passive verb where you can use the active. (“The UN passed a resolution…” rather than “A resolution was passed by the UN.”)

5) Never use a foreign word, a scientific word or a jargon word when you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

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

Now, I don’t really know what “barbarity” is, in writing, but I suppose it’s the same as what a US Supreme Court justice is supposed to have said about pornography: “I know it when I see it.”


About msmarguerite

Young Quebec City-based freelance journalist. once and future nomad. I blog about life, about travel, about things I notice and every so often about work. I enjoy language learning, singing, swing dancing, skating and...other stuff, sometimes. My heart is somewhere in East Africa, Haiti or Eastern Europe. English, français, русский, malo slovensko, un poco de espanol, um pouco de português ndiga ikirundi, mwen ap aprann kreyòl...
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