Hello Cruel World
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Adding to the comments on "Elmore Leonards' 10 Rules of Writing" at nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004808.html#004808
I don't think anyone there mentioned the rules George Orwell suggested at the end of his excellent essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946), so I present them here.
... 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 barbarous.
It has some other nice observations about usage in his time, many of which are still applicable.
And after all that kerfuffle for his Centenary too (Is a Centennial different?) Or was it that everyone was sick of hearing about him after that?
A sad side note. His works are/were available online here in Australia at whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/index.html but I believe that with our new "Free Trade Agreement" with the USA extending copyright from 50 years after the author's death to 70 years, that will no longer be legal.
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