Orwell’s Rules for Writers

by John J. Miller on December 7, 2010

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

George Orwell–the subject of this week’s NRO podcast with biographer Jeffrey Meyers–was a model of clear writing. In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” he passed on six rules every writer should read:

(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.

Next week’s podcast: James Buckley on Freedom at Risk.

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