Naipaul’s Seven Rules for Writing
- Do not write long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.
- 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.
- 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.
- Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.
- The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible.
- Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete.
- Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way. Small words; short, clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them.
Seven Classic Naipaul Quotes
- An autobiography can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies: it reveals the writer totally.
- Everybody is interesting for an hour, but few people can last more than two.
- One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.
- To this day, if you ask me how I became a writer, I cannot give you an answer. To this day, if you ask me how a book is written, I cannot answer. For long periods, if I didn’t know that somehow in the past I had written a book, I would have given up.
- Life doesn’t have a neat beginning and a tidy end, life is always going on. You should begin in the middle and end in the middle, and it should be all there.
- I’m the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.
- My grief is that the publishing world, the book writing world is an extraordinary shoddy, dirty, dingy world.
Source for Image
Naipaul is a Trinidadian-British writer of Indo-Trinidadian heritage. He is best known for his novels focusing on the legacy of the British Empire’s colonialism. In 2001, Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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