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V.S. Naipaul's Rules for Beginners


Sir V.S. Naipaul is a Trinidadian-British writer of Indian descent known for his novels set in developing countries. He has authored several fiction and non-fiction books. A House for Mr.Biswas (1961), A Bend in the River (1979) and A Way in the World (1994) are some of his famous novels. Three of the non-fiction books are about India. An Area of Darkness, India: A Wounded Civilization, India: A Million Mutinies Now, and A Congo Diary are some of his famous non-fictions. He won Booker Prize in 1971, and Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 2001.

These are his Rules for Beginners in writing.

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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