Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Please Kill the Zombies

Clichés are writing's walking dead.

You can pretend they're harmless, but soon they'll take overand come back to bite you.

A scrupulous writer kills clichés when they begin to pop up in her work.

"A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions," says George Orwell in his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language:
  • What am I trying to say?
  • What words will express it?
  • What image will make it clear?
  • Is the image fresh?
A scrupulous writer will ask, in addition:
  • Could I say it in fewer words?
  • Have I said anything avoidably ugly?
"But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble," Orwell says. 

"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 certain extent—and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself."

Before you click publish, do readers—and yourself—a favor.

Please kill the zombies.
Powered by Blogger.