Writing Well. A Biblical Example.
As a former journalist, I often fight a natural tendency to fall into the passive tense, avoiding strong nouns, verbs and adjectives. Here’s a good example of elegant writing, offered up in a New York Times article where the author, Helen Sword, warns against using ‘Zombie Nouns.’
To get a feeling for how zombie nouns work, release a few of them into a sentence and watch them sap all of its life. George Orwell played this game in his essay “Politics and the English Language,” contrasting a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes with his own satirical translation:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
Beezer here. The author also links to a site where you can take a test to see how well you write. I’m afraid to take it.
Editors note. I took the test. I got ’flabby’ marks. Sheesh. Got to work the flab out.