Gog the Mild
The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice.
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
- 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?
And he will probably ask himself two more:
- Could I put it more shortly?
- Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you - even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent - and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.
- 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.
To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.
- A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up the details ...
― George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
- How shall I explain the dying that was done?
- How shall I convey that each one
- Did the callous calculus of life,
- In their mind resolved
- The algebra of necessity
- And wrote the value of their days
- Against the bloody margin
- In an understated hand?
- They will want to know:
- How was the audit done?