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Writing Tips from George Orwell
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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If you have not guessed yet, we are quite biased when it comes to good writers.

No matter the profession, writing will always have a place. In one of the comment streams during our three part "Writer Shortage in AdLand" series, one fired-up commenter wrote about how the future of this country lies within the STEM principles. He also called us tools for being so short-sighted and whiny.

There's a lot to unpack in that seemingly simple comment. We won't unpack much, though we will acknowledge that the commenter was half-right. What the half-smart commenter failed to realize is that that brainiacs who devote their time and energy to science, technology, engineering and math will need people who can communicate their messages. They will need people to unpack their smart talk into language easily understood to the rest of us short-sighted "tools."

But we digress, for this is not a post meant to defend writing. We're here to celebrate the rules of good writing.

We have brought you rules of creative writing from Kurt Vonnegut, and tales of how to write from David Ogilvy.

Here are tips for writing from George Orwell, author of 1984, among other things. A Forbes contributor found these tips, and we are thrilled to share them with our BMA audience. These rules of Orwell came from his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language.

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.

Note, all three writers have similar tips. Avoid jargon. Use short sentences. Use active voice whenever possible. All three of these writers also emulate the advice from Strunk & White's Elements of Style, a book that will never cease to be relevant.

Writing well, and writing well often, is tough to do. All three have detailed how they failed and succeeded at adhering to the very rules they created. But like Ogilvy said, no one is born a good writer. We must learn to write well. The more one writes, and the more one critiques how they write, the better writer they will be.

How would Orwell, Vonnegut*, and Ogilvy react to the types of writing running rampant today?

In most cases, probably the same way they reacted to the people in their day.

*Yes, we realize Vonnegut isn't that far removed from "today," bear with us.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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