Write Better Essays by Listening to George Orwell

Writing an essay is often challenging for students. Trying to remember the grammar rules, creating a thought invoking argument and proving the point of the argument takes time and effort. While it is possible for any student to write an essay, improving the writing skills is often a challenge. Fortunately, George Orwell’s advice in his essay “Politics and the English Language” gives a few key points that will make any student’s writing improve.

Avoid Overdone Phrases

The use of common metaphors, similes and phrases that are seen in newspapers, essays and books on a regular basis will ultimately detract from the essay. Writing an essay is a creative endeavor and it requires new phrases and imagery to capture the heart and mind of the reader.

During essay proofreading, students should look for common phrases or imagery that leaves a reduced impression due to the common usage. Change the phrase or word to create a new mental image.

Keep Words Short

Avoid long words when a shorter word can replace it. Long words might seem intelligent, but it ultimately bogs down the essay and makes it more tiresome to read. Keeping words short and precise while maintaining the same meaning will make the essay interesting.

While it is not always possible to avoid long words, it is often possible to substitute a shorter word with the safe meaning. If a shorter word can substitute, use the short word instead.

Avoid Unnecessary Words

The mark of a great writer is the elimination of unnecessary words or phrases. Whether it is an essay, a novel or any other written work, keeping the sentences as concise as possible without changing the meaning will improve the writing style.

After writing an essay, students should always go through and cut out unnecessary words or phrases. Cutting back is a natural part of the editing process and it helps clarify the meaning by removing anything that does not add value to the essay. 

Use Common Terms When Possible

The use of scientific terminology or professional jargon is only necessary in textbooks and professional works. A student essay should opt to use the word that is understood by the typical individual to describe the item. For example, use the word “rose” to describe the flower instead of the technical phrase for improved clarity.

Jargon and technical terminology only confuses the average reader. An essay is usually written for the average individual who might not know the formal words and instead understands the everyday English equivalent.

Use Active Voice

Active voice is preferable to passive voice in writing of any kind. Active voice would include phrases like “Lift the bag” rather than “He should lift up the bag”. Passive voice complicates the sentences and phrases, making the statement less clear. Active voice is concise and to the point. 

George Orwell’s advice on writing can apply to any form of writing. While essays are creative works that prove a point, it is still important to follow the key steps of George Orwell’s writing advice. It will result in an essay that is clear, concise and full of imagery that helps ensure the audience understands and enjoys reading the work.

Alexis is a life-long student and writes on various education related topics for online colleges guide. When she's not writing she enjoys geocaching and spending time with her family!

Categories: Writing Tips   Tags: writer better essays, George Orwell, Politics and the English Language