Six Tips for Writers

By Jenny Harris

Editing, the writer’s word for repentance and grace. It’s always painful and always redemptive.

In case you find yourself in a writing and editing phase of life, here is some advice. Don’t worry, it’s not from me.*

From George Orwell**, who was an outstanding author despite my ardent dislike of 1984–

  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 if a short word would do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use 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.”

*Andy shared this with me, and it’s just the sort of thing that endears him to me. What kind of 20-something year-old guy reads essays by George Orwell on his lunch break? My guy. My guy.

**Orwell, George. 1968. Politics and the English language. In The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angos, vol. 4, ed. 1, 127-40. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jananovich.

Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris

Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she's crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family's goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.
Jenny Harris

Jenny Harris

Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she's crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family's goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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