With every sentence you write, consider at least four questions:
- am I trying to say?
- will express it?
- or idiom will make it ?
- Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? - Not sure this is that important, except for the more poetic intentions.
Plus two more:
- Could I make it shorter?
- Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
Rules to rely on when instinct fails:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
* From “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell.