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George Orwell's Writing Rules (With Examples)
Updated:
March 16, 2021

George Orwell's Writing Rules (With Examples)

Reading Time:
2 Minutes
Ravinder Deol
Table Of Contents

1. Never Use A Metaphor, Simile Or Other Figures 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 Phrase 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 Outright Barbarous

The joy of reading got schooled out of me. Because of George Orwell's writings, particularly his essays, I was able to rediscover the pleasure of reading.

Since discovering George Orwell's writings, I've consumed more of his work than any other writer: Orwell has become one of my literary idols.

My favourite Orwell novel is his first, Burmese Days. Similarly, my favourite Orwell nonfiction is his first too, Down and Out in Paris and London. As for my favourite Orwell essay, that isn't easy, but I can't forget A Nice Cup of Tea.

George Orwell's work has regained popularity in recent years. Orwell popularised words continue to grow in use: big brother, thought police, two minutes hate, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime, and more.

This article's subject is George Orwell's writing rules (with examples), which he shared in his essay, Politics and the English Language.

Never Use A Metaphor, Simile Or Other Figures Of Speech Which You Are Used To Seeing In Print

1. Example: Winston's Achilles heel was Julia.

1.1. Alternative: Winston's weakness was Julia.

2. Example: The ball's in your court, Big Brother.

2.2. Alternative: It's your choice, Big Brother.

Never Use A Long Word Where A Short One Will Do

1. Example: Big Brother told Winston to pay in a timely manner.

1.1. Alternative: Big Brother told Winston to pay promptly.

2. Example: The house is in close proximity to the British club.

2.1. Alternative: The house is near the British club.

If It Is Possible To Cut A Phrase Out, Always Cut It Out

1. Example: Orwell is known first and foremost for Nineteen Eighty-Four.

1.1. Alternative: Orwell is known first for Nineteen Eighty-Four.

2. Example: I might possibly not do the Two Minutes Hate today.

2.2. Alternative: I might not do the Two Minutes Hate today.

Never Use The Passive Where You Can Use The Active

1. Example: Nineteen Eighty-Four is admired by science-fiction fans.

1.1. Alternative: Science-fiction fans admire Nineteen Eighty-Four.

2. Example: Burmese Days was written by George Orwell.

2.2. Alternative: George Orwell wrote Burmese Days.

Never Use A Foreign Phrase, A Scientific Word Or A Jargon Word If You Can Think Of An Everyday English Equivalent

1. Example: At the end of the day, Big Brother is becoming a reality.

1.1. Alternative: After all, Big Brother is becoming a reality.

2. Example: George Orwell will touch base with you.

2.2. Alternative: George Orwell will reach out to you.

Break Any Of These Rules Sooner Than Say Anything Outright Barbarous

(1) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figures 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 phrase 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.

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