GEORGE ORWELL, author of “1984” and “Animal Farm” formulated 6 questions and 6 rules for writing:
- What am I trying to say?
- What words will express it?
- What image or idiom will make it clearer?
- Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
- Could I put it more shortly?
- Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
“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:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are 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.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
From Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.”
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Top 20 Rules for Writers. Here is the opener:
First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience.
“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
“Write drunk; edit sober.”
But apparently this comes from a novelist called Peter De Vries who published a novel called “Reuben, Reuben” in which the main character says:
“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”
“The Baker’s Dozen” Steps to writing a book.
4 June 2014: