Orwell's Rules 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, scientific word, or jargon if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. Orwell's Questions What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? Strunk and White: Principles Of Composition Choose a suitable design Use the active voice Put statements in positive form Use definite, specific, concrete language Omit needless words Place yourself in the background Write naturally Write with nouns and verbs Revise and rewrite Do not overwrite Avoid qualifiers Do not affect a breezy manner Use orthodox spelling Do not explain too much Do not construct awkward adverbs Avoid fancy words Avoid dialect Avoid mixing languages Prefer the standard to the offbeat Evil Passive Verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been, I'm, it's, he's, here's, she's, that's, there's, they're, we're, what's, who's, you're Heinlein's Rules You Must Write Finish What You Start You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order You Must Put Your Story on the Market You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold Start Working on Something Else Evil Metaphors and Phrases on steroids think outside the box longpole in the tent stove pipe the long and short of it is the fact (of the matter) is reinvent the wheel open a can of worms talk off line herding cats same sheet of music at the end of the day to be honest with you on a weekly basis touch base building bridges teach how to fish keep the plates spinning run it up the flag pole sooner rather than later lessons learned synergy zero tolerance self licking ice cream cone not ready for prime time showstopper barking up the wrong tree holding feet to the fire the cart before the horse goat rope ground truth devil is in the details break down barriers food fight bear fruit sense of urgency dog in the fight with all due respect utilize (prefer use) low hanging fruit slippery slope straw man work in a vacuum grease the skids let a thousand flowers bloom red herring leaning forward in the saddle ahead of the curve crawl, walk, run cookie cutter