Writing Tips

George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing

In our society, the study of language and literature is the domain of poets, novelists, and literary critics. Language is considered a decorative art, fit for entertainment and culture, but practically useless in comparison to the concrete sciences. Just look at the value of a college degree in English versus one in computer science or accounting.

But is this an accurate assessment of value?

Language is the primary conductor between your brain and the minds of your audience. Ineffective language weakens and distorts ideas.

If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority.In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics. No wonder it’s hard to make sense of anything!

This is hardly a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable. By following Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing, you’ll distinguish yourself from competitors and clearly communicate your ideas.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.

For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read.

When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree (Ezra Pound). Accordingly, any words that don’t contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs. I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand:

The man was bitten by the dog. (passive)The dog bit the man. (active).The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.

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

This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don’t want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you’re writing about. You want your ideas to spread right?

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

This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense.These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. Although I’ve edited this piece a dozen times I’m sure it contains imperfections. But trust me, it’s much better now than it was initially. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than you think.

I hope you find these rules helpful, and through their application we’re able to understand each other a little bit better. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read Orwell’s original essay. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read.

  • Xdroot

    I read this essay over 10 years ago. It changed the way I viewed the writing process. Lazy (‘foolish’ according to Orwell) thinking if allowed to become lazy writing encourages even lazier thinking.

    I think it was C.S. Lewis who said (echoing Einstein), and I paraphrase: If you can’t explain it to a 12 year old then you have not understood the concept. And how better to know you understand, than to put fingers to keyboard!

    • http://www.feelgoodhacks.com Conor

      Yeah that’s a great point Xdroot. Any real expert always make the topic accessible to the masses.

  • Emily

    I am currently studying a basic level writing course at university.

    This blog has infact summed up what a month of lectures and tutorials has been trying and failing to do. So simple!

    Thankyou!

    • http://dotheknowledge.com/transcend Bryan Ogilvie

      Emily, what text does the course use?

      There’s a writing course at my school that studies William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, a classic in the field.

      If you enjoyed this post, you’ll really love Strunk’s stuff. Some of it parallels Orwell’s essay, actually.

      Peace,

      +B

      • http://fashiongirlstyle.wordpress.com/ fashion guide

         I think it was C.S. Lewis who said (echoing Einstein), and I paraphrase:
        If you can’t explain it to a 12 year old then you have not understood
        the concept. And how better to know you understand, than to put fingers
        to keyboard!

        • http://www.bluebendphotography.com/ Asheville Wedding Photographer
        • http://profile.yahoo.com/4VZVZN4W6JKZHZ6T5PVPIL5UHM jermin

          couldn’t have said it better

      • Smithtrey001

        Yes i agree :)

        Trey

        • http://www.squidoo.com/samsung-galaxy-s3-phone Samsung galaxy s3

          I agree too

      • Morris Starkey
    • http://www.flvtomp3.org/ Jussie Cerny

      I think its cool, though

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Yes, ironically enough, simplicity is one of the hardest things to teach.

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  • http://www.theinternetjournalist.com/ writer

    Very useful and true list! Thanks very much.
    It’s on my blog now, with a link back here!

    http://www.theinternetjournalist.com/?p=86
    or
    http://www.theinternetjournalist.com/

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    writer, I’m glad you found the post useful. Thanks for sharing with your readers!

  • anony

    Good practical tips! I’ve partially reproduced it. Hope you don’t mind!

    Most of today’s bloggers try hard trying to sound intelligent, but end up like rumsfeld!

    http://www.charchaa.com/george_orwell_s_5_rules_for_effective_writing

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    anony, of course I don’t mind at all, they’re not originally mine anyways. They came from Orwell. I’m just happy you want to share the message with your readers.

  • Pepe

    Hehehe.. how ironic:

    “4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    This one is frequently broken…”

    • David

      “Where you can use the active”

      Use the active :P.

      Double irony.

      • Daniel

        Wrong – that sentence is in the active voice. ‘You’ is the subject, ‘use’ is the verb, ‘the active’ is the object.

        If it was in the passive voice, it would be “Where the active can be used by you.”

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Haha, thanks for catching that Pepe. I guess the difference between passive and active isn’t quite as obvious as I thought. :)

    • David Carruth

      Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the passive voice when it is used correctly (see? there’s one). Problems come when it is used to obscure the subject or when it makes the sentence flow more convoluted than necessary.

      • C A Labarber

        This
        is true and a good point. There is a delicate difference between writing that
        feels passive—to the reader—and writing that is grammatically passive, the
        latter often being not only acceptable but more appropriate, depending
        on what the writer is trying to say.

        With
        this said, taking grammatical passivity out of writing altogether is actually a bad idea.
        To help illustrate my point, I’ve shared an excerpt from one of my favorite
        books on writing style.
        Again, writing that is grammatically passive isn’t always bad, but writing
        that feels passive is.

        Grammatically active sentences can feel passive when:a. None of its actions
        are verbs; rather, they are abstract nominalizations.b. The subject is an
        abstraction.c. The sentence lacks
        flesh-and-blood characters entirely.

        When to use grammatical passive voice:a. You don’t know who
        did an action, readers don’t care, or you don’t want them to know.b. You want to shift a
        long and complex bundle of information to the end of its sentence, especially
        when it also lets you move to its beginning a chunk of information that is
        shorter, more familiar, and therefore easier to understand.c. You want to focus
        your readers’ attention on one or another character.

        (Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 10th ed.)I hope this helps.

        With
        this said, taking grammatical passivity out of writing altogether is actually a bad idea.
        To help illustrate my point, I’ve shared an excerpt from one of my favorite
        books on writing style.
        Again, writing that is grammatically passive isn’t always bad, but writing
        that feels passive is.

        Grammatically active sentences can feel passive when:
        a. None of its actions
        are verbs; rather, they are abstract nominalizations.
        b. The subject is an
        abstraction.
        c. The sentence lacks
        flesh-and-blood characters entirely.

        When to use grammatical passive voice:
        a. You don’t know who
        did an action, readers don’t care, or you don’t want them to know.
        b. You want to shift a
        long and complex bundle of information to the end of its sentence, especially
        when it also lets you move to its beginning a chunk of information that is
        shorter, more familiar, and therefore easier to understand.
        c. You want to focus
        your readers’ attention on one or another character.

        (Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 10th ed.)

        I hope this helps.

        • C A Labarber

          Ew, that is a jumbled mess. Sorry that I pasted it twice. Get past that horrible formatting if you can!

  • asdf

    following rules is a complete waste of time if you’ve got nothing to say. and if you’re got something to say, then rules are irrelevant. most writers, musicians, artists, etc are just piglets eager to suckle the teats of some corporate pig as they dream of dollars, with dreck-mongers like stephen king, spielberg, lucas, eric crapton, madonna, etc, etc as their role models. not one single original thought provoking expression between the lot of them. let me put it this way: stupid people suck, it doesn’t matter what rules they follow cos whatever they say is still going to be stupid.

    • blindingleaf

      “…stephen king, spielberg, lucas, eric crapton, madonna, etc, etc as their role models. not one single original thought provoking expression between the lot of them.
      spielberg and lucas were pioneers in their film making. ”
      im sure that now it does seem like they lost their way and are in it for the money, but if it were 40 years ago and the previews for their classics were just coming out on tv, you would be in awe of their groundbreaking style. those two especially are what created the hollywood style of movies, which is now in a state, as you so vehemently put it, of total tit sucking corporate blah blah or whatever you said. but for their time,they were true visionaries

      • http://www.pbwriter.net Bobbie’s Pen

        I agree with the critic. If a writer perfects their grammar, yet the words are meaningless, both grammar and words are useless. If a writer has something profound to say, and what is spoken moves the heart, yet there is a missing hypen, the content supercedes the mechanics.

    • Harriet

      Hey asdf

      I really ( Must admit..) liked YOUR comment, it seemed to come from the heart and I also full heartedly agree with it.
      Well..nearly..say for instance weric Clapton..yeah ..pas grandchose , but he wrote Leila..Steven Spielberg Well he put the money he mad e with shitty fils nto worthy causes, Madonna, her music is as shitty as it gets I mean it doesn t even count..but she had a vision and a dream and that was to not join the fate of her sisters (all women , living in a mysognist agesm riddled society..) and postulated already in 1987 that she was in it for the long run.

      Which she did!
      Apart from that yeah, there has been such a losss of meaning and talent in writing ,but also in the other arts like Fine Arts(Does anybody LIKE Damien Hirst? so why isn t he all over the place on Tea Cups, towels as Van Gogh is)

      Ecclesiastes:
      I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all

      Hey asdf I’ ve retained your attention far to long :)
      Bye.The quote is for YOU, ’cause I agree with you nevertheless..

    • Cassidy

      “whatever they say is still going to be stupid”The very existence of your comment justifies its argument. Wait…

    • Nehashem090

       I agree with u  City
      Breaks Prague

  • Frank Furtive

    Strunk & White is more accepting of passive voice. It recommends the passive voice when the object of a sentence is, more broadly speaking, the subject. For instance if you are writing an essay about acorns, you could rightly say, “Acorns are buried by industrious squirrels.”

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks for the explanation, Frank. That is a great of example of when the passive voice is a better fit.

    I really need to read over my old copy of Strunk and White.

  • http://www.zomboscloset.com Iloz Zoc

    I tell this to Zombos everyday, but he never listens. Excellent advice, though. Thanks.

  • http://cantseetheforest.org Curtis

    Five rules? As in 6=5? ;-) Just joking. Thanks very much for posting these, Politics and the English Language is one of the very best. And now the clock strikes thirteen…

    • http://www.squidoo.com/graco-nautilus-3-in-1-car-seat-children Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat

      Very good tips, thanks 

    • http://www.squidoo.com/graco-nautilus-3-in-1-car-seat-children Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat

      Very good tips, thanks 

    • Meggiep97

      no. 
      as in 2+2=5

  • http://www.BusinessBlogWire.com Easton Ellsworth

    Nice post. A lot of would-be pro bloggers don’t realize how crucial great writing skills are to their lasting success. These tips are keepers!

  • Charlzz

    asdf is missing the point. Writing well is not always about writing original, compelling prose. It is just as much the need to communicate effectively. If you write a memo or an email or a blog entry, you want to follow this advice. This isn’t the kind of writing that wins raves, yet is written every day.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I agree, Charlzz. If everything written had to be completely original and fabulously expressed I don’t think anything would ever get published.

  • http://tresvioletas.com Alex

    Nicely done! going straight into my Del.icio.us!

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks, Alex.

  • quixote

    A loghorreic ambiguation has sans doute suffocated our attempts at verbal manifestation like a wet rag; any smouldering embers of creativity have been snuffed like a candle leaving but a barren dessert to the lexically enabled, consequently ablating – ca va sans dire – the sematic rendition of expression in a cacoëthes loquendi.

    • Harriet

      hey i like your pseudo TOO!

  • Steve

    So what’s with the 6th rule in a piece about 5 rules? I’m trying to see it as some witty, ironic, self-reference. But it’s not working.

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      Nice tips

  • Dave Kirby

    The “trunk and White” book referred to above is “The Elements of Style”‘ by Wm. Strunk and E. B. White. It covers briefly but perfectly the issues involved in interesting and concise writing. It really is a must-have reference.

  • http://www.gujaratglobal.com yogesh Sharma

    My dear,
    These rules are universal like the fact that all of us should speak truth. Still, they are repeated time and again just because we tend to ignore it.
    This is for the simple reason that we ourselves do not understand what we are perceiving through our senses.
    And everytime we need some big name to tell us small things! This is the irony of the situation. You used Orwell to tell the simple truth with big name.
    Thanks for this interesting reading. I wish people really follow it rather than using it as a quote to show their intelligence.

  • Elika

    Williams’ Style: Towards Clarity and Grace is also a good read for writing. It focuses more on the paragraph level, whereas Strunk and White focuses more on phrases and sentences.

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  • Frank Furtive

    Charlzz: “Writing well is not always about writing original, compelling prose. It is just as much the need to communicate effectively.”

    Can you give a single example of compelling prose that is not effective communication, or vice versa?

    • Word Is Love

      Charlzz: “Writing well is not always about writing original, compelling prose. It is just as much the need to communicate effectively.”

      Can you give a single example of compelling prose that is not effective communication, or vice versa?

      “Twas brillig and the slithy toves
      did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
      All mimsy were the borogroves,
      and the mome raths outgrabe…”

      Personally, I think that’s compelling, but I wouldn’t say it’s effective communication.

      I’m goofing, not being snarky. Just so you know.

  • http://g.co g

    isn’t this the guy who wrote an excellent read on the dangers of slimming down language as a danger of the government slowly taking over the details of citizens’ lives?

    i love the essay.. but damn!! i believe in extending the words in order to best clarify a point. after reading orwell’s insight.. i think he actually agrees!!

    maybe those who came before us were a bit longer in their wording. we all have our ways..

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  • James Zhou

    I checked out some parts of in the Economist’s Style Guide, quite useful. But I can not help getting myself doing that when it comes to real writing.

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  • http://www.burek.co.yu Ivan Minic

    He was a strange man…

  • http://www.rossparker.com Ross Parker

    “Less is always better.”

    Fewer is better still.

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  • http://www.madcomments.co.uk/ Judith

    I could have used this yesterday *smiles*

    I had to write a piece – and I’m not a writer at all! – on what I do for a few thousand people – GAH!

    I wish I’d had this yesterday… *sighs*

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    That’s unfortunate, Judith. I’m sure there will be a next time though.

  • Offalycool

    I do not wish to sound pretentious, but I really wish to inform anybody who may be understandably unsure as to the meaning of the word “fascism”. If one simply Google’s it they will understandably confused, and could be forgiven for concluding this word has no definitive meaning.

    Various different dictionaries claim many different meanings, such as “tyrannical government” or “oppressive regime”. This word is frequently introduced by the media in order to deflect investigative questions, and claim the moral high ground, in effect manipulating the emotions of the public.

    The correct and original meaning of “fascism” is a direct coalition between a state and industry. Big industries role is increasingly overlooked. One may only take the EU for an example of a modern fascist organisation; it did after all start out as European Economic Community.

    I believe this is both good and bad, but I fear the increasing trend in western culture to frown upon such terminology, whilst at the same time attempting to perfect it. I agree with the points in this post. We must be able to communicate clearly in order to avoid self-destruction.

    • Harriet

      LOOK I DIDN T GOOGLE IT RIGHT NOW..BUT I THINK “FASCISM” WAS COINED IN RELATION TO MUSSOLINI’S RISE.

      IN ANY CASE : WHY SHOULD THAT MEAN THAT THE EU IS A FASCIST ORGANSATION…ONLY BECAUSE IT INITIALLY STARTED OUT WITH THE WORD “ECONOMIC” IN IT?

      D’YU FIND THAT LOGICAL?

      WHAT’S YOU R BEEF WITH THE EU, ARE YOU A ‘APATRITIC AMERICAN ‘, WHO CAN T FATHOM THE IDEA OF A PARALLEL SUPER POWER OR WHAT ?

  • George

    @asdf

    Young man, you are quite mistaken. The object of the exercise is to ‘write well’, not ‘write original material’. By that definition, the much reviled Stephen King [et al] has performed quite admirably. Or else you have done better and the proceeds of your prowess have equally allowed you to live quite prosperously.

    Furthermore, it is quite useless to be envious and disdainful of the productions of others. If you find them so, ignore them. If you want to be proven right: do better. If you cannot: read better material. What use is a life spent lamenting the poor quality of others’ work when your own cannot match them?

    Write well and enjoy the process!

    • anonymous

      You broke a rule.

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  • http://www.37marketing.com Brad

    Hey, “no hands down” the best blog I’ve read this a.m. I found it via DIGG.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks, Brad. I’ve been getting a lot of visitors from Digg this morning, it’s my first time on the front page.

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  • http://www.37marketing.com Brad

    John, Digg is awesome. I was just actually thinking “You know I bet that guy just put a Digg button on his blog and one person hit it and bam.”

    And as I read along more of your blogs, you may have just found another faithful subscriber. Good stuff keep it coming!

  • Andreas

    @George

    Here is worthwhile advice to you:

    Don’t use the word ‘quite’ in every other sentence, especially when you are criticizing someone. It looks snobbish and stupid.

    When you communicate a point, be direct.

    Throw out all the quites, almosts, evens, pretty muches and their friends too. Write with authority and people will believe you.

    See rule #3.

    • threegs

      @Andreas. You taught me something. I could not put my finger on what George said that while agreeing, was also irksome. Or rather quite irksome. Thank you.

    • Harriet

      YEP ANDREAS

      AGREE WITH GEORGE HERE.
      NOW ..

      I DON’ T WANT TO TIRE OUT ANYBODY’ S PATIENCE BY USING A WELL WORN CLICHE..AS IN COULDN’T ‘QUITE PUT MY FINGER ON IT’,…either, BUT IT BASICALLY SUMS UP WHAT I WAS THINKING ,TOO.

      OK

      OUPPPS!

      I WAS DELEBERATELY OR NOT SO DELIBERATELY USING OBSFUCATING LANGUAGE..

      SEE.. GOT PUNISHED! CAN ‘T EVEN SPEKK THE WORD!

      NEVER COULD, AND WHEN I HEARD IT THE FIRTS TIME IT TOTALLY SEEMED TO DEAFEAT THE PURPOSE.
      (IF YOU KNOW WHAT i MEAN)

    • C A Labarber

      I’m sorry, Andreas, but you seem to be a little misinformed about the words you are grouping together.

      The words almost, even, and pretty much are called hedges, and, contrary to your belief, they are a good type of metadiscourse to use when you want people to believe you. Why? Because in reality confident writers use hedges to avoid sounding assertive. Yes, this is true. When most readers read a sentence that begins with something like obviously, undoubtedly, it is clear that, there is no question that, and so on, they reflexively think the opposite. These words are called intensifiers. And, in fact, the most common type of intensifier is the absence of a hedge–this is your suggestion. Some writers think using intensifiers, or avoiding hedges, as a kind of assertive style is persuasive. Quite the opposite: If you state a claim moderately, readers are more likely to consider it thoughtfully.

      You need metadiscourse in everything you write, especially metadiscourse that guides readers through your text, words such as first, second, therefore, on the other hand, and so on. You also need some metadiscourse that hedges your certainty, words such as perhaps, seems, could, almost, even, and pretty much. The risk is using too many.

  • http://misosofos.com Misósofos

    Nice and useful tips. Thanks ;)

  • anon

    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    > The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.

    Another problem is that the passive can be vague. Eg. You can write “The man was bitten” but it begs the question, “by whom?”

    > This one is frequently broken

    …by whom?

    “Many writers break this rule.”

  • http://www.myspace.com/andshe andshewas

    Love it! I’ve been out of school for a while and am now finding myself writing short bits at my job to get the boss to buy things for my department. It is always great to get some tips! Thanks!

  • http://www.madcomments.co.uk/ Judith

    John (couldn’t reply to “thread”)
    I actually do hope there will be another opportunity as I do enjoy sharing what I’ve learned but given what I produced I worry that was the last time they will allow me to contribute *smiles*

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com Jersey Exile

    Another problem is that the passive can be vague. Eg. You can write “The man was bitten” but it begs the question, “by whom?”

    Regarding the phrase “begs the question,” Orwell’s #5 comes to mind (not to mention the fact that it’s one of the most misused phrases in the English language).

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  • fred

    “omit needless words”
    Strunk and White abbbreviated Rule #2.
    The other shorter alternative is
    KISS ( keep it simple stupid) .
    It violates rule #1

  • http://www.technicalwrites.com billwrtr

    “This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical.”

    Good technical writers know these things and revel in them.

  • George

    @Andreas
    The cheek!
    I give you 1 quite. One less would have been good. It sounds snobbish and stupid? Tough cookies. If I want your opinion about me, I’ll give it to you.
    I did not use ‘almost’, ‘even’, ‘pretty much’ at all, what’s your point? If I have to write more direct than that, I have to use Borg idiom. I wanted to use a chiding tone and dammit, I did a good job of it too!

  • shrimmmmmp

    “3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    Less is always better. Always.”

    The extra “always” on this one is so funny, I assume it was intentional.

  • Andreas

    @George

    Haha! Thats better!

    • Harriet

      You won!

      good one!

      ( By the sheer wit and shortness of reply.
      You proved a point there!

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  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Shrimmmp, you are right about that. I figured that breaking the rule would be worth it if I could help emphasize the point.

  • http://Christian milo

    I read 1984 many years ago, and it reminds me of “the new word order”, which is taking place even as I write. George.W. Bush belongs to the illuminaty, a group of people made up of industrialist, polititonss and the most powerful people in the world. You can find out for yourselves, don’t take my word for it. The plan is for world domination, one law one world religeon, and centralised in Europe. Gordon Brown the British home secretary has plans that invove the new word order, ( British newspapers). Their plan will include micro chips in our hand or in ones forehead, these have already been acomplished by the FBI, they tested it on gas pumps in the US. Imagine that we wont be able to by any food or sell anythiing,
    when we go into a store we will be scanned for the hidden chip in our hand or head. It will be on point of death if one refuses to have the chip which will be administered through a hypodermic injection. Then we will find out who is on the Lord’s side. There is much more for you to find out, so get searching and read the book of Revelations Chapter 13.

  • George

    Milo, you’re right that George Orwell would be proud of what we’re doing to the world but you’re over extending the whole new world order thing [although George H.W. Bush certainly used the phrase, he's thinking about it for sure].

    A new world order makes no sense. We can hardly manage our environment as it is. Look at what a controlled environment does to people: the Soviet Union, China, Islam. All ideologically dominated. No more initiative, social stagnation. Your grand scheme ends. You may be king of the dungheap but in the end you’re just running a pile of shit. Suppose your dystopian paradise comes into being. What are our supreme overlords going to do to us that they’re not already doing to us today?

    Here is what will happen with your new world order. Global warming is causing major planet-wide changes to the ecology. That will drive very tough choices because people will no longer have an alternative. Your new world order will be swept away by untold millions who can’t be bothered being impressed. They will be poor, miserable, fed up and hungry. Try to control a population that sees its children die of hunger. Good luck with that one. It’s hard to rule the world when nobody gives a wet slap.

  • James

    With these rules in mind what are we to make of the writings of Christopher Hitchens?

    I think his writing is brilliant, although I’m not sure as I don’t understand most of it.

  • Christian

    Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    “This one is frequently broken”.

    Too funny :)

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Someone pointed that out earlier :). I never claimed to be perfect.

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  • http://eelkat.wordpress.com/ EelKat

    Cool post, thanks for posting!

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  • joey two-times

    My 2 cents:

    Avoid the use of automatic and superlative adverbs – these words (ex from the article – ‘incredibly’, ‘highly’), break rules #3 and #1, adding unnecessary and meaningless mass to your writing.

    A personal rule: never describe something as ‘ironic’ or refer to ‘irony’ unless you take A FULL 30 SECONDS to evaluate the truth of that description. Actual irony is rare – paradox, coincidence, and the unfortunate are far more often the true circumstances to be thoughtlessly given the ‘irony’ title. This last sentence was brought to you by the passive voice.

  • http://www.longbeachrealestate.blogspot.com Julia

    Thanks for this post. I wish my high school English teacher, as good as she was, supplied this to help us with her instantaneous writing exercises back in the ’60′s. Maybe it’s not too late!

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  • http://inv.squarespace.com Daniel

    This reminds me of David Bourland’s work on E-prime (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-prime). Bourland suggest that we should drop the verb “to be” in all its forms. This removes the passive voice and force the writing to be more precise.

    For example, writing “the rose is red” lacks clarity. Roses don’t inhibit “red” in themselves. Color is an experience in the mind of the observer. To sharpen your message you can instead write “The rose appear red to me”. This gives information that we talk about a subjective experience.

    Be sure to check out the link I provided for more details.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks, for the link Daniel. I’d never head about E-prime before. I wonder how many people actually use it. It is certainly more accurate.

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  • http://www.insiderweblog.com Jesper

    Hi

    Thanks for a very insightful and helpful post. Orwell is my house god and I believe that he was one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century.

    The erosion of the language is actually enslavement, since without a meaningful language we are unable to understand what goes on around us at all.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You’re right, Jesper. It feels like we lose more meaning every day, making it harder to understand the world, and to change it if we’d like to. Still, I we can all make a difference on an individual basis.

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  • http://ya.ru/ alex

    hi nice site.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Hi, Alex. Thanks :)

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  • http://www.cyclechaos.com/ Motorcycle Guy

    I definitely agree with not using big words when a long one will do. There are rare cases that might be exceptions, like discussing a legal concept but in general I think that is really good advice.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/learn-guitar-easy-fast Learn Guitar

      Yes they are very good advices 

  • OMAR BIHMIDINE

    What George Orwell says about these rules has really attracted me.there is no success in writing effectively unless one writes in simple language.

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  • Brain zona

    Thanks, But i need to know more about the Rules that Governs Essay Writing, Letter writing, and even the when and where to apply the English Semantic and verb, pronoun and so much of Foundation, Please can you teach me or recommend a good webist or text-book for me.

    I only know about Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics …. thats …. all maybe because i did not spend my time studying English Language that is why i am having problem with English language and know is my time to enter into the University and know they need me to understand English language… and currently am failing in it..

    Can any thing be done?.. if there is please you can
    email me: cleorock2002@yahoo.com.

    and by name is Brain Zona

    Thanks…. any way…… Please can you… Analyse my spelling and grammar in this little writting i just made and you guyz should correct me if applicable.

    Hoping to hear from you. Thank you

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  • Glenn

    Never say ‘never’. Rule #4 – while stated using passive instead of active tense, passive tense is more appropriate in this case due to the generality of subject which it brings. Using an active tense would force specificity on the subject which would not be desirable.

  • Quixote

    “never” should never be said ??

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  • http://www.junkinside.com Sugo

    This topic is very effective for those writers who want to appear in any kind of competitive examinations

  • http://www.joy2day.com Joy2day.com Is A Source of These Articles

    I think not for competitors but for other writers as well like news reporters and essay writers as well.
    In short these are very very effective notes

  • Harry

    I think someone mentioned Strunk somewhere up there. Orwell’s rules are a good brief of some of his rules. I think every writer should have a copy of The Elements of Style.

  • http://ya.ru/ robert

    hi all.

  • arin

    Hi
    my job is related directly to writing. i need help on making
    research material look great in a refereed journal.
    i agree the same rules apply here but getting to
    a pro journal is tricky for me.
    thanks for great blogging!

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  • Karen

    I agree with these rules I write pretty much straight on avoid euphemisms when possible flowery language and 15 letter words people shouldn’t have to struggle through a piece of writing to get the point I do use alot of humor though when appropriate what do people think of that?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I think humor can be great in the right context.

  • Karen

    yes if it fits use it. if it has no place what you are writing, its better to leave it out.

  • http://www.mindfullsuccess.com Valerie

    Hi,
    This is one of the better articles I’ve read and will help me with my future writing! This is a great Blog too. Thanks for all the good stuff!

  • Karen

    I agree Val very good info context is everything keeps your writing in perspective.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/britax-marathon-70-seat Britax Marathon 70

      Very good tips 

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  • http://copyblogger.com Brian Clark

    How in the world did I miss this post? Great stuff, John!

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  • http://2tiposdeinteres.blogspot.com/ Cristóbal Villalobos

    It´s very interesting. I love Georges Orwell. I try write like him, but in spanish. I dont speak english very well sorry.

    http://2tiposdeinteres.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.fictionpress.com/~phoenixignition David McIntosh

    I am interested in #2. I have been told many times that I write too pretentiously. I have even been told to ‘dumb it down’ many times. It isn’t intentional, it’s just the way I like to write. I guess I should give it more thought, but how do you know how simple you should write? I read classics, mostly older ones, where the vocabulary is atrocious. Then I read very simple, almost abrupt writings (e.g Paulo Coelho), and it just doesn’t have the same charm, although the authors seem very intelligent.

    I don’t want to be pretentious, but I don’t want to live in a world where a big vocabulary is something to hide in shame.

    • talia

      do u go to job corp

  • Karen

    re writing to pretentiously—I write the way I talk. from the hip –what you see is what you get –It’s just my personal style. If writing pretentiously is comfortable for you why back down.

  • rules rules rules

    Much better are the books about writing that are less prescriptive, that explain when it’s okay to break the rules.

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  • http://Publisherdatabase.com everardo

    Hello,
    I agree that you should use all 5 Rules of writing simply. Then, after you read them, understand one thing. Poetry is an Art. It is that Art that tends to bend these rules, depending on any particular word and the feeling you are trying to show. It may be an idea you might not be able to portray in any other way, except to break one of these rules. And, that is alright. You can never make rules that have to be sustained, no matter what. You can never be consistent and that is alright, as well. Only remember that it is the poem that is important, not the writer. And always keep in mind, Poetry is your entry to fun. It is also the reader’s entry to fun. They depend on us to make the poem fun, enjoyable, truthful as possible and helpful. Regards, ev.

  • Dom

    Thanks for the posting of the five rules, i have just printed them out, and will study them carefully. The active over the passive voice idea makes alot of sense to me. I good writer like orwell probably kept that rule at the front of his mind constantly. because he seems, to me anyway, to have an amazing ability to turn a idea around and hit you with something very direct and abrupt to complete the idea. I don’t know if anyone else notices that. I have just finsihed reading down and out in Paris and london. Very good.

  • http://trebinjedanas.com/forumtrebinje steve

    Great post. Some of this tips may be very useful to me.

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  • M.M.M

    i need badly to change my bad englis, i face dificulty in writing specialy in litreture.

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  • http://librodot.blogspot.com/ Florie

    Very interesting, I had no idea George Orwell had wrote rules!!!

  • http://Lola Lola

    I read some of the comments and it’s funny to see how some people think they know it all. Writing it’s important but isn’t there other things more important going on around the world?

    • buddhistMonkey

      @Lola: “Writing it’s important but isn’t there other things more important going on around the world?”

      Yes, but how would you learn about them?

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  • nice to know

    Nice to know.

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  • Spork

    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    If you use the word utilize, in writing or speech, stab yourself repeatedly in the face with a broken beer bottle. Or, I suppose you could always just stop using it.

  • Mike

    The comments demonstrate how little thought we put into our routine writing. Even though there is no teacher grading our writing, evaluations continue – and grammar counts, spelling counts, capitalization counts. Vomiting thoughts onto the page is not writing, it is the opposite. Rather than communicate, often it only confuses.

    Writing takes effort. Writing well requires work, thought and practice. Effective communication is worth the sweat.

  • Wes S

    These are certainly useful guidelines. However, they bear only a tenuous connection to writing well. They are to writing well as arithmetic is to engineering.

    • http://myso-calledjapaneselife.blogspot.com/ Shari

      I’m glad someone pointed out that these guidelines aren’t a recipe for becoming a good writer. The truth is that writing well isn’t something you can do by the numbers. Writing is about communication, but it’s also about entertaining and engaging the reader. Sometimes it’s not about the shortest path to the information, but the most interesting one.

      It’s important to remember that Orwell was writing about the literature that occurred before and up to his time. That was a time before people lived lives that were saturation-bombed with media. He was encouraging people to forgo florid literary traditions, not write in a rudimentary and simplistic fashion. People offer advice with an eye toward the times they live in and sometimes that advice doesn’t translate to future media and communication methods. He was also talking about writing meant to evoke emotions, and a lot of people seem to be treating what he has said as an all-encompassing rulebook for all kinds of writing.

      Economy and directness work well in conveying emotion because the reader doesn’t get tangled up in deciphering the prose. If you’re not writing to evoke emotions, then you’re going to bore the reader by slavishly following these rules.

  • Andy Garcia

    the rules actually come from the Orwell essay: “Politics and the English Language” published in 1946

    It’s a damned good essay all the way through, very thought provoking and fully applicable today.

    http://www.spymac.com/details/?2334927

  • satireanon

    I must say that anyone who has a real grasp of Orwell through his writings and many of his interviews with himself, will agree wiht me that this essay is not meant to be taken the way that it was obviously taken by these readers.
    I chose to break down his writing style and analyze “politics and the english language” for a course final paper at my university. The entire paper can be seen as sarcasm. Though he brings up very pertinent thoughts about writing, it is nothing that the common person does not know. He breaks the rules himself often in his own works. It was not meant to be completely serious. If you can grasp what he was saying in that sense, then you can explain it to a child, and you will understand.
    Yes, you should follow those rules, but we are human, and no writer is perfect. Many parallels cna be drawn between his paper and Mark Twain’s, “The literary offenses of Fenimore Cooper”

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  • http://trainingstagebuch.org Trainingstagebuch

    Thank you for this great article.

    Greetings
    Nils

  • http://www.tratfor.com Intelligence

    George Orwell was the pen name of Eric Blair
    Whatever Blair the Eton school charity case could not be, Orwell was
    Orwell ( or Blair) had made lasting contributions to our anologies of extreme political movements and their manipulations whatever the color or side

  • http://futurefire.net/ Djibril

    Rule six is of course the most important of these five rules. But it should be noted that you cannot even begin to apply rule six, “Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous” unless you have a good grasp of the first five rules, have internalized them, and understand why they are important to make writing both more clear and more elegant.

    Several years ago Matthew Sweeney taught a seminar on creative writing in which he insisted vigorously upon a variant of rule #1: “No clichés!” A cliché is the least poetic word possible: poetry is about finding new ways to say things that we will all understand. Originality. He demonstrated this rule by pointing out that the great poet Seamus Heaney had a rule that he would *never* use the word “soul” in his work. The ultimate cliché, right? The ultimate cop-out. If you use the word “soul” it’s because you want to say something important that you don’t know how to say in original words. It took thirty years of writing and publishing poetry, huge critical aclaim, years of experience of teaching and reading before Heaney had the competence and confidence in his own mastery of language that he dared to write a poem containing the word “soul”.

    Once you know the rules, once you know how to write and are comfortable and competent and masterful, then you can break any of the rules you like. Because they have served their purpose.

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  • http://www.emsacademy.biz Lori Joyce

    I enjoyed reading this. I love to learn something new each day, and now I have. I will work on using more active writing than passive.

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  • Yochai

    Hi. Love the brief article. Was hoping to read the Orwell essay as well, but: http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit, seems to be “forbidden”. Error 403.

    Any advice?

    Thanks.

    • http://www.byknight.com/wordpress Peter Knight

      To Yochai (#99)
      Actually it isn’t ‘forbiden’: In your link there is a comma (,) at the end which doesn’t belong and isn’t good HTML (it must have crept with some ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ operation – which happens often enough, that wonderful feature of word processing has that fault). The .ru domain, Russia with shades of KGB and now Mr. Putin makes us suspicious! Not them this time.

      What an successful post this is.And though it isn’t the be all and end all of good writing they are good rules all the way to #6 inclusive.

      See if this link works now:

      http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit

      Peter

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  • http://www.yesshespeaks.wordpress.com Magdamali

    Salutations…

    Here’s my edited version of George Orwell’s politics and the English language…

    http://yesshespeaks.wordpress.com/20…s-insincerity/

    Warmest regards

    Magda

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  • roberto

    You left out one other suggestion in Orwell’s essay: use Saxon words rather than those with Greek or Latin roots.

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  • http://www.besttermpaper.com Paper Writing

    In writing an essay paper you must be direct to the point and like what he said that “Never use a long word where a short one will do”. Much better if you’re going to use words which easy to understand so that readers will directly feel the feeling or emotion that you’re trying to express in your paper. I admire every writer for having this magical power of making their papers seem real. They have the power to touch the emotions of readers through their magical words.

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  • http://www.essaystart.com Essay Writing Help

    “George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing”. This is amazing. By reading this i can understand the all rules which we should keep in mind while writing an essay.

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  • http://www.morethanoxfordstreet.com Vanessa

    Thanks for this – George Orwell is one of my all time favourite authors

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  • http://www.essaywritinginsider.com Essay Writing Insider

    I agree with this one. “Never use the passive where you can use the active.” Whatever kind and type of writing should be in active voice. This is just one of the many rules in creative writing

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  • Olusuyi Oluwatoyin Patience

    your golden rules are effective!
    keep it up!

  • http://www.custom-essays.net/ Custom Essays

    Amazing Rules. Seriously you have done a very good job to share these effective rules with us here.

  • sauc3

    I love how you said, “I’m sure it contains imperfections” and then right after you said, “The Key is…,” which is a metaphor used in almost every piece of writing. But very useful thanks im prepped not for my english exam.

  • sauc3

    *prepped now

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    Collaborate to write a poem for the film

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  • http://www.alanyahaber.com alanya haber

    I would think you’d know better

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  • http://www.oyuncunet.com Oyuncu

    Well, this very nice and wonderful.

  • http://vijesti.in.rs/ Nic

    A very useful list. Best regards!!!

  • http://timelesslessons.com Valeria | TimelessLessons

    I wish my high school English teacher, as good as she was, supplied this to help us with her instantaneous writing exercises back in the ’60’s. Maybe it’s not too late!

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com farouk

    makes sense,the simpler will be the better

  • http://dekorasyon.dantelix.com dekorasyon

    your golden rules are effective!
    keep it up!

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  • http://www.MyGlutenFreeChild.com Kirsty

    Great post – really helpful. Thank you.

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  • communi-k8

    Very well explained, and simple principles to ensure that ideas are clearly conveyed. I will mention this in my blog and reference back to this link. http://communi-k8.blogspot.com
    Thank you!

  • http://www.askforhrd.com skkuumar

    Very good article

  • http://inkostroma.ru Кострома

    Very good article? oh ! nice! shot the best :)

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  • http://www.fiveonline.in Nayan

    Great Post. I was searching for such an article on internet for improving my writing skills. Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.thebrandsaloon.com jayesh

    Great article and tips on writing. I think this post will help me and others improving our writing.
    Thak you very much for the tips.

  • Tim

    I would love to see a post about how you applied these rules to your 1st draft post.

  • http://www.forumbasic.com Forum

    Thank You

  • http://www.anessayonenglish.com Robert Blaithwaite

    If you need help writing English essays I found a site called An Essay On English which has great essays that you can read for free. It is really useful to get a good idea about how to write a good essay, and then write your essay similar to one of theirs.

    That’s what I did and got a better score than usual.

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  • http://blogtoread.com/ way

    I like short words too. It’s easier to read and understand this way. Thank you for tips.

  • http://www.forumilla.org HawK.TwO

    thanks..

  • http://glashercegovine.com vijesti vesti

    Great article. I particularly like rule 5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

  • http://www.jayeshkhandor.com Hitesh

    Hi
    Nice Article. It is very useful and kind of must read article for writing tips.

  • http://www.kralmekan.net Forum Sitesi

    Very very nice thank you

  • http://leoplastik.com Stanovi Trebinje

    Great. Strong word is like a sword.

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    Thank you for sharing.

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  • joeeel

    you all are twats. and so was george orwel

    • Richard Shoupe

      Congratulations on effective usage of Orwell’s advice.

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    It is on my site today, with a link back!

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  • Aammad Arif

    I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand

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    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. Ill definitely be back. 

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  • http://www.47-5.blogspot.com CarrieVS

    I think numbers three and six are the key here.
    But number three can’t interpreted as ‘if the sentence will make sense without it, cut it out’. It’s possible to cut a thing out only if it changes neither the meaning nor the effect, tone or feeling.
    As for six, the exception to the rule ‘there’s an exception to every rule’ is itself, which has no exception – and I am fully aware, and do not care, that that is a paradox.
    Outside of formal writing, it is allowable to break any and every rule up to and including the laws of grammar, if it adds something. If it sounds right, it is right, and all the so-called rules are only guidance on the easiest way to make it so.
    The thing to do is to know the rules, know what they say and why they are there, and know what you are breaking and why.

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  • Vulcan

    thanks for sharing, but theories are theories, it needs our hard practise to be a good writer!

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  • tiredstudent

    but how will i ever fill up the pointless 10 page assignment assigned me?

  • tiredstudent

    but how will i ever fill up the pointless 10 page assignment assigned me?

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    I wish to convey my admiration of your writing skill and also ability to make viewer, read the whole thing to the end. I’d like to read more of your blogs and to write about my thoughts with you. I’ll be your frequent website visitor, that’s no doubt.

  • IrmBrown

    So glad I found this blog.

  • Raymund Hensley

    “Less is always better. Always.”

    I see what you did there. Excellent post by the way.

  • http://www.essayboom.com/articles/essay-writers-for-hire essay writers for hire

    These rules remain the same for many centuries. I also believe that if you want people to understand you, then use simple words. But if you have to speak, and don’t know what to say – the way out is using the words no one understands :)
    Brent

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  • S&M

    I really did like this piece. I was looking for the word to say when people unnecessarily elevate their speech in unnecessary situations. Jargon is what I was looking for! Thank you. Using a type of jargon to the wrong group not only makes you sound pretentious but less understood. *thumbs up*

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  • Cool- Aid Girl

    hi :)

  • Cool – Aid Girl

    Good essay. Im proud.
    (i guess.)

  • http://www.bedrijfzorg.nl/ Bedrijf

    As a writer, you just have to know the basic rules in writing. Aside from that, everything is on the hand of the writer.

  • http://twitter.com/caspmct caspar mctaggart

    “4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs.” –hmmm.

    Shouldn’t this read, “People frequently break this one …”?

  • Jonesandmiller

    This is so true, I remember when I was young my aunt had just started college and she tried to let everyone know how smart she was, her method was to constantly use “big” words. My grandfather became tire of listening and told her “Sis, you’ll never get your point across by talking over people’s heads; plain talk is easy understood”. My grandfather was a simple hardworking man, but very smart guy, wouldn’t you say?

  • Richard

    Writers stray from telling the story when they start selling themselves on the page.

  • http://www.murph4slaw.blogspot.com/ Kwixylver

    These are the same rules my English teacher gave me in high school. They work, and now I’m a writer.

  • http://www.murph4slaw.blogspot.com/ Kwixylver

    I learned these principles in high school English. They work. Now I’m a writer and use them all the time. And, by the way, I use Strunk too.

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  • crystbear

    Thanks! I just found your site..and I already got a pointer on my writing in my own website. 

  • crystbear

    Thanks! I just found your site..and I already got a pointer on my writing in my own website. 

  • crystbear

    Thanks! I just found your site..and I already got a pointer on my writing in my own website. 

  • Anonymous

    Stupid me!  I read the great big headline, “George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing,” and assumed I’d be reading George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing.  It didn’t occur to me until the article mentioned the Internet that this probably wasn’t Orwell’s work. 

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  • http://cobases.com Michael Cobases

    To be honest I disagree with the first of your mentioned statement because metaphors and other things makes you sound more professional but the rest statements are completely true. 

  • Fchin123

    Rule no.6 Take the time and effort to read as many of Orwell’s essays as you can. They are available in an Everyman edition. 

    • Anonymous

      That would be rule 7 dips hit.  The article wasn’t so long that you shouldn’t be able to count the number of rules.

      • Shelrae

        Wow. Take your pill. The title of the article sites “5 Rules”.
        Do you just troll around looking for people to blast?
        Are you short?

  • Fchin123

    Dante’s Divine Comedy, probably the best poem the West has ever produced, was written in the simplest possible vernacular language of his days, but according to TS Eliot, such simple writing requires a life time to master!

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your excellent post. If ever you go to the Cape Verde Islands, drop me a line.

  • http://improvememory-reviewpros.com Ileana

     As a professional blogger, writing is a full time job for me. As I read this list, I intuitively know these rules to be correct. But I had a sinking feeling as I read them since I can see that I don’t follow them very well. I’m going to print this out and keep it by my side as a write. Thank you “pick the brain” for this kick in the pants (whoops, sorry, I’m not supposed to use metaphors). Dang, this is going to be tougher than I thought!

  • http://improvememory-reviewpros.com Ileana

     As a professional blogger, writing is a full time job for me. As I read this list, I intuitively know these rules to be correct. But I had a sinking feeling as I read them since I can see that I don’t follow them very well. I’m going to print this out and keep it by my side as a write. Thank you “pick the brain” for this kick in the pants (whoops, sorry, I’m not supposed to use metaphors). Dang, this is going to be tougher than I thought!

  • http://improvememory-reviewpros.com Ileana

     As a professional blogger, writing is a full time job for me. As I read this list, I intuitively know these rules to be correct. But I had a sinking feeling as I read them since I can see that I don’t follow them very well. I’m going to print this out and keep it by my side as a write. Thank you “pick the brain” for this kick in the pants (whoops, sorry, I’m not supposed to use metaphors). Dang, this is going to be tougher than I thought!

  • http://improvememory-reviewpros.com Ileana

     As a professional blogger, writing is a full time job for me. As I read this list, I intuitively know these rules to be correct. But I had a sinking feeling as I read them since I can see that I don’t follow them very well. I’m going to print this out and keep it by my side as a write. Thank you “pick the brain” for this kick in the pants (whoops, sorry, I’m not supposed to use metaphors). Dang, this is going to be tougher than I thought!

  • http://improvememory-reviewpros.com Ileana

     As a professional blogger, writing is a full time job for me. As I read this list, I intuitively know these rules to be correct. But I had a sinking feeling as I read them since I can see that I don’t follow them very well. I’m going to print this out and keep it by my side as a write. Thank you “pick the brain” for this kick in the pants (whoops, sorry, I’m not supposed to use metaphors). Dang, this is going to be tougher than I thought!

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  • SMS

    What a very informative essay. It strikes me that the language today is very well going to force one to retch their insides out with such ambiguous and unclear thought of the examples given.

    Active voice is much more direct and intentional than passive voice to give a bright meaning to a shady sentence.

    Whereas a passive voice should be used for laying an underbrush for and active voice to leap from.

    Maybe if the writers of today were to use a dictionary and encyclopedia, they will sharpen their prose skills and seek to define rather than suggest true meaning of their works.

    My thoughts alone. Agree or disagree. There is always room to learn.

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  • http://www.knutselopdrachten.nl/ Knutselen

    As a professional blogger, writing is a full time job for me. Good writing matters. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nmatair Nugroho Matair

    I like your 5 rules, I am trying to understand from my point of view as being my native language is not English. I use a tool from Google Translation as a tool to test. The final results of around 80% of your writing can be understood by Google Translation, whereas 20%  still using a language understandable only to your audience. What do you think? Do you just write only for your own audience? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Steven/100002043473290 Mark Steven

    Read! Another no-brainer but essential for those wanting to write.  Reading voraciously not only inspires and motivates, it also teaches you about the written word.  Even bad writing can help you learn what not to do. Reading other authors can teach you so much about the craft of plotting, character development and dialogue. It is important however to read like a writer. What is it that you like about a particular author? What makes their work stand out? Read more and more authors in your genre and use what you learn to perfect your writing style.
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  • http://twitter.com/dbtroutman Daniel Troutman

    Very good article

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    • Liza Smith

      this a good and valuable article to me.

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    If you dream of working for yourself and being able to generate an income from your writing, you will need to learn how to make the most of the time and resources at your disposal.
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  • http://twitter.com/bronsondavid david bronson

    Brilliant – I’ve always been a huge fan of  Orwell’s classics and very much look forward to reading this and other essays of his.

  • TruthandConsequences

    Orwell’s tips do a good job of crystallizing journalistic style. Be succinct. Strive for clarity. Active voice.  

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     People quite often make their speech so difficult for perception and are proud of using some new expressions. However they do not think at that moment that others would like them to speak to them more simply!

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     People quite often make their speech so difficult for perception and are proud of using some new expressions. However they do not think at that moment that others would like them to speak to them more simply!

  • http://www.authorsmania.com/ Mia Anderison

    Best way it to read a lot, and participate in different blogs and forums for improvement. Well i appreciate the tips mentioned here!

  • Dsasrag

    I didn’t myself is inaccurate> I didn’t either.

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  • http://timewarnerinternet.blog.com/2012/06/09/multi-purpose-time-warner-internet-plans/ CW

    I liked the information. The tips are really valuable. The key to succeed as a writer is to be more creative. And as far as writing is concerned it is always good to use simple short sentences. Using too much flashy words can be minimized or avoided for the better understanding of the readers. This is what I follow.

  • Malachisteve123

    As far as i know, Language  is the entire way of communicating people. The way that everyone could interchange. But sincerely, we should use it in a right way. Much more if it is delivered with patience.

  • Kristel McKinley

    thrty

  • http://www.addvalue.com.au/ Custom Branded

    Think about your reasons for writing and what you want your readers to do. Write down the points that will get your reader moving in the right direction. Collect any information you will need to flesh out your points. As you do your research, you may discover new points. Integrate them into your list, but make sure that everything in your list supports your overall purpose and no extraneous items sneak in. Write down “whatever comes to you. Just get some words down to get yourself into it. It doesn’t matter what they are at this point. The very fact of writing helps you to think of what and how to write, so it’s important to be doing it. Once you have gotten into it and have built up some momentum, ideas will begin to flow and your writing will come easier. You can always go back and do the beginning last. Look at what you’ve written from the reader’s point of view. Make your writing simple and clear. Rearrange and improve the order and flow, if necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/April-Atkins/100002557175252 April Atkins

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/April-Atkins/100002557175252 April Atkins

    I know I’m stating the obvious here, but it had to be first on the list, and I speak from experience! Even the master storyteller, Stephen King, in his 2000 memoir “On Writing” admitted “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
    This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan your piece, far from it, but despite ongoing technological advancements in almost every industry, writing still requires a writer, so write.
    Edit, re-write, discard, re-invent, even all of the above, but you need to have written something first.

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  • Ben

    Re:Point #2, there is science to back this one up! 
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051031075447.htm

    Orwell was right intuitively, as expected, and then science provided the proof.

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  • Ronald Koven

    Did Orwell really write this ? It refers to the Internet, which didn’t exist in his lifetime — a bit like discovering a painting is a fake because it was made with pigments that were unavailable in the artists’s time.

    • AngelontheEDGE

      The blog is a paraphrasing of a very popular, widely read essay by Orwell. At no time does the author state that Orwell wrote the blog. That’s just silly.

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  • Wizfoz23

    “But” is a conjunction, it doesn’t start a sentence. ;-)

    • Guest

      “… hookin’ up words and phrases and clauses… ”
      “But, that’s sorta the opposite: not this, but that”
      “and, but, & or will get you pretty far”

  • guest

     Um, doesn’t he say to use passive over active, not the other way around?

    • guest

       Oh wait I think I’m wrong re-reading his essay

  • David Hirst

    Don’t say ‘judgment call’ – it’s an expression favoured by office guys punching one anothers’ shoulders in the locker room and ragging one another about how their teams are doing.

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  • Rod

    Beware. “common sense” is not always common and does not always make sense.

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    Great! I really enjoy how you position your topic because it reminds me of my father who really loves to write poem but he was a writer in our locality. Again, Great tips! Thanks a lot for your insightful ideas

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  • Taylor Church

    I enjoyed this piece. I tend to agree with Faulkner and Hemingway however. I love large words and advocate the use of them. For if we do not use them, what purpose do they serve? But it is wise to not alienate your intended audience. The true art is to mingle the simple with the verbose, the basic with the complex etc. Check out my blog post on the importance of reading. I think it is important http://billymoney.blogspot.com/2013/03/if-you-dont-like-reading-youre-doing-it.html

    • AngelontheEDGE

      Hemingway and Faulkner do not agree on this point. Reread the example, and check out the disparity between their prose styles. Arguably their styles are as distinct from one another as oil and water.

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  • Alex Weinle

    Just a little expansion on the difficult rule 6 and editing.

    “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
    ― Samuel Johnson, Johnsonian Miscellanies – Vol II

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