How should beginners begin?

naipaulvs02A British writer of Indian lineage, V. S Naipual, who is credited with the creation of works like, A house for Mr. Biswas, The Middle Passage, An Area of Darkness has often been called the “greatest living writer of English prose.” The Nobel Laureate laid down the following guidelines for beginners aspiring to be writers someday:

  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.
  4. Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.
  5. The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number. Use as few adverbs as possible.
  6. Avoid the abstract. Always go for the concrete.
  7. 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.

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