It’s January, so Happy New Year and all that. Ahead of you lie 12 bright and shiny months, completely untouched and just waiting for you to make your mark on them. Which made us wonder whether you’ve possibly thought of doing the resolutions thing? You know, starting the upcoming year by becoming a better person in some way?

Maybe you’ve considered giving up watching Strictly, and listening to Radio 3 instead? Or dropping down to just the one bottle of wine per night? But, perhaps more realistically, if you’d like to become a better writer, here are some rules that might help you in that resolve. They come from George Orwell. Admittedly, not the most cheerful of penhandlers, but he knew a thing or two about style.

So you could do a lot worse than make these your own New Year resolutions. We certainly are (again):

  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.

Thanks George. And thanks for all those great works of literature you left us such as Animal Farm, which have had such an immense impact on millions of readers.

But for us here at Wordsworks Towers, and our rather more modest number of readers, we sincerely hope that 2016 turns out to be a lot more cheerful than 1984.

Our own resolution is to make it so.