Amit Varma in India Uncut:
My post a few minutes ago about the misuse of the word populist reminded me of a list of suggestions VS Naipaul drew up many years ago for beginning writers at Tehelka. I first read that list in my friend Amitava Kumar‘s introduction to a fine collection of essays edited by him, The Humour and the Pity: Essays on V.S. Naipaul. Here it is, reproduced in full:
VS Naipaul’s Rules for Beginners
1. Do not write long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.
2. Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.
3. Do not use big words. If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.