George Orwell's 6 Questions And 6 Rules For Writing

George Orwell’s 6 Questions And 6 Rules For Writing

Writers Write shares writing tips and resources. In this post, we share George Orwell’s 6 Questions And 6 Rules For Writing.

George Orwell was born 25 June 1903, and died 21 January 1950. The acclaimed English writer is the author of the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and the allegorical novella Animal Farm. Together, these books have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author.

Here are Orwell’s six questions and six rules for writing.

George Orwell’s 6 Questions And 6 Rules For Writing

Six Questions

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?”

Six Rules

“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:

  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 one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”

Taken from Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language”.

Source: Gotham Writers

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 8th June 2012