Writing Advice from George Orwell and Stephen King

medium_WritingAdvice_WritersWriteDear Ekphrasians:

As you get ready for the looming 3DNC weekend, here is very good writing advice from two good prose stylists.

In this article, Stephen King gives “22 Lessons On How To Be A Great Writer.” I especially like 6-8, and I love the schedule he has developed for writing a novel. 3 months to draft; 6 weeks off; and as long as it takes to rewrite. The best piece of advice is “22. Stay married, be healthy, and live a good life.” But that’s not just advice for writers; that’s advice for everybody. And if you’re not married, put in “choose healthy, inspiring friends.”

In “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell talks mostly about having a good prose style. His advice is all super practical. Towards the end, he has this handy list:

  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 outright barbarous.

I am going to try to keep these all in mind as I draft and later revise Ready-Made Grave. I hope you they are helpful to you in your drafting, too.

(P.S. Thanks to A Pilgrim in Narnia and Mere Inkling for reminding me of the Orwell piece this morning).




About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a PhD student in English and Presidential Scholar at Baylor University. She also serves as Chair of the Language and Literature Department at Signum University, online. Her latest publication is an academic essay collection on "The Inklings and King Arthur" (Apocryphile Press, December 2017). Her interests include British Modernism, the Inklings, Arthuriana, theatre, and magic. She holds an M.A. from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Sørina blogs about British poet Charles Williams at The Oddest Inkling, wrote the introduction to a new edition of Williams’s "Taliessin through Logres" (Apocryphile, 2016), and edited Williams’s "The Chapel of the Thorn" (Apocryphile, 2014). As a creative writer, Sørina has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" (2007) and "Caduceus" (2012).

One thought on “Writing Advice from George Orwell and Stephen King

  1. Good advice! Very excited for the 3Day Novel Contest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s