George Orwell’s Rules for Writing

22 May

George Orwell

At some point you were, like me, probably required to read either Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four or novella Animal Farm. What did this quintessential writer from the 40’s lay down as his Rules of Writing?

  1. Never use a metaphorsimile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  3. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  4. If it is possible to cut a word out, alway cut it out.
  5. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Yikes! Confessional time for me, I break rules 4 & 5 with great regularity. Any of these a pet peeve for you?

For more on Orwell and his rules, check out Richard Nordquist’s article at this link on


Posted by on May 22, 2013 in On Writing


4 responses to “George Orwell’s Rules for Writing

  1. mandyevebarnett

    June 28, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I think all writers have that ability – it makes for a fun ride.
    Thanks for dropping by.

  2. kristinkingauthor

    June 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I have to admit I love knowing all the rules and then breaking them willy nilly in my own works.

  3. mandyevebarnett

    May 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I’m sharing your three writing rules posts on my blog today – great information!


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