Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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5 ways to become a better writer (according to George Orwell)

Pick the Brain has abridged George Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing. All together now:

  1. Don’t use cliches. We’re all guilty of this, but avoid them at all costs. Writing should evoke emotion. Cliches are cozy expressions that humans don’t internalize, thereby no emotion is felt.
  2. Be concise. Wordy thoughts don’t sound intelligent, well-structured sentences do. (If I hadn’t written #1 above, I’d say “Less is more,” here.)
  3. Strip out filler words. Trim the fat from your sentences. Never use two adjectives when one will do.
  4. Use active voice over passive. The man wasn’t bitten by the dog (passive), the dog bit the man (active). It’s shorter and more forceful that way (Latin-based languages do this very well).
  5. Avoid trade jargon. If you want your ideas to spread, avoid technical jargon in favor of an everyday word.

Thanks, George!