2 books to help you with clear, concise writing

improve writing skills

If you’re reading this from America, you probably know both these books. Otherwise they might have passed you by. Personally, I discovered them quite late, by which time I already adhered to most of the principles in them. However, they summarise a lot of my views on writing clear and concise English language, so much so that I thought it worth blogging them here.  Already famous in America, The Elements of Style was labelled one of the All-Time 100 Nonfiction Books by Time magazine – that is, one of the most influential books written in English since 1923. Otherwise called the Strunk and White (after its authors), this prescriptive language book is often forced upon students for its simple and effective rules. They are sometimes contentious, but mostly on point. The second book I want to highlight is Writing That Works, a business writing guide that novelist Louis Begley called “the Strunk and White of business writing” and famed advertiser David Ogilvy gave as his number 1 advertising tip: “read it three times”. Writing that Works is a similar style guide, from some of Madison Avenue’s most successful advertisers, and gives rules specific to communication. Continue reading

6 language rules for better writing, from George Orwell

language rulesI originally published these tips for my copywriting blog,    but they’re as relevant to creative writing as they are to any other. George Orwell, famed for his essays and bleak political fiction, spent a great deal of time musing over language use and the influence it had on the general decay of society. He despaired that contemporary English was becoming ‘ugly and inaccurate’, particularly focusing on political rhetoric that he deemed vague and inaccurate. He wrote an excellent essay, Politics and the English Language, condemning overly wordy prose, with 6 language rules that are sure to improve anyone’s English: Continue reading