"Golden rule

After university, Naipaul decided the way he had written undergraduate essays was not “proper writing”. He set himself the task of learning to write all over again, this time using only simple direct statements. “Almost writing ‘the cat sat on the mat’. I almost began like that.” For three years he stayed with those rules. He recently provided a list of seven rules for beginners at the request of an Indian newspaper: (1) write sentences of no more than ten to 12 words; (2) make each sentence a clear statement (a series of clear linked statements makes a paragraph); (3) use short words—average no more than five letters; (4) never use a word you don’t know the meaning of; (5) avoid adjectives except for ones of colour, size and number; (6) use concrete words, avoid abstract ones; (7) practise these rules every day for six months."