Great rules. I think my editor would agree most strongly with point 4…
- used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
George Orwell, Politics and the English Language (Horizon, 1946)
These rules, unlike Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 rules for writing, are about the use of language rather than the construction of stories.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has read his work that Orwell thought the corruption of language corrupted society. He was particularly critical of how it allows us to use euphemisms and neologisms to accept and promote facts and beliefs we would otherwise find objectionable.
This is an important reminds to writers that our choice…
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