Earlier today I tweeted that “fascinating, intriguing & interesting are 3 most overused words that show bloggers need a writing refresher.” I think they are like crutches used by some of us, mostly because we can’t find a better way to pen down our thoughts. Instead of being clear, coherent and simple in our message, we resort to words that typically obfuscate. Describing one’s state of mind or a neural response to a news story or a photograph is something that doesn’t capture the reason behind a blog post. Of course, I have used those three words as a way to weasel out of hard thinking… so I shouldn’t complain.
In response to my tweet, Olly shared a link to an old George Orwell essay: Politics & the English Language. “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks,” Orwell so eloquently writes. “It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language.” At the end of this essay, Orwell offers six simple rules that make for clear and quality writing:
- 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.