If you haven’t read Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”… you should. It’s less about politics, per se, and more about astoundingly good writing.
(I just sent this to my son, who is having to read some painful literary book over the summer for Junior year in High School. His assignment isn’t even fiction – it’s non-fiction! Which seems a greater offense.)
(ps I don’t have anything against literary fiction as a genre – it can be amazing when well done. And if that’s your thing, then more power to you. I just see it assigned and doing no favors to legions of young people for whom it turns the thrill of reading into a torment.)
Orwell savagely and brilliantly takes on the tendency to use florid language to obfuscate meaning rather than make oneself absolutely clear. It’s well worth the time to read to this 5k word essay.
“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?” – Orwell