Rose Wild, Times, Feb 19th, was the stimulus for the following:
Orwell said political language 'is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.'
His advice included 6 rules:
- Cliches - 'never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.'
- 'Never use a long word when a short one will do.'
- 'If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.'
- 'Never use a 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 every day English equivalent.'
- 'Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.'
Stephen King has loads of rules, so pick and choose. No passive, no adverbs (particularly after he/she said), read often, turn off TV/distractions, leave out boring bits like research, take breaks.
Elmore Leonard had 10 rules apparently. 'My most important rule is one that sums up the ten. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.'
Returning to Stephen King because he agrees with me. Don't worry about perfect language. Write for yourself to start, then revise and cut out what is not story. Don't imitate others, write your own style. Stories are part of our evolutionary history so we find them in our imagination not on TV.
Some of the best comments I've had are from guys who wonder why I am so brief and I take it as a compliment. I do not spoon-feed readers. They have to do some of the work. I recall from a module on literary theory at college (far too difficult overall for me) one approach covers how readers interpret the text. Leave the text spare and a reader can ride a horse through it and enjoy the trip. In effect we are writing together.