KISS your writing

Keep It Simple Stupid.

AKA don’t be pretentious, if I had to look up the meaning of the word Honorificabilitudinitatibus to put it in my story, chances are most everyone else will too. If I litter my story with words to sound super smart I’ll sound like a jackass.(That’s my opinion.)  I’ve set more than one book down for this reason, not because I didn’t know what the word meant, but because, seriously? Big fun words have their place, I use them wisely or the reader won’t think I’m so wise. That’s not to say they don’t belong, but if it’s overrun it can be frustrating to read and borderline insulting.

For example:

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is deleterious to our reputation. Neither are erroneous however, neither are optimal either. Both are nugatory to the client. We must commence by consolidating these two non-ostentatious layouts into one agreeable layout. We will have to ameliorate everything expeditiously, leveraging our proficiencies to implement the client’s prescribed parameters.” (55)

 Uh… yeah, what she said… and… close book. 

Sometimes big words have their place, we’re not in kindergarten. I Write for the audience, the readers. A fourteen year old may know what Commensurate means but is the word necessary? Can’t I just say equal?

Sasha stood before the group holding up the two layouts. “This is the kind of work that will destroy our reputation. Neither are wrong however, neither are optimal either. Both are of no value to the client. We must start by consolidating these two unimpressive layouts. We will have to improve everything expeditiously, using our skills to carry out the client’s request.”  (62)

 Better, but she’s still sounding a wee bit pretentious. Now if word count is an issue (and it always is for me) and I wanted to simplify this further I would do this.

Sasha held up the two useless layouts to the group. “This level of work will destroy our reputation. Neither is optimal, so we need to consolidate them. We’ll need to work quickly and actually meet the client’s requests this time.” (40)

I would have never written it like the first attempt. I did that to illustrate that the insertion of overly pretentious words can alienate a reader.

My advice about keeping it simple.
The thesaurus is great and useful, but remember to write for your audience not to “impress” or make them feel stupid.


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24 thoughts on “KISS your writing

  1. I consider myself a newbie writer, and sometimes I’m guilty of this. Not that I want to sound smart. Sometimes, maybe it’s just the pressure. I feel like no one will be interested to read my work if I don’t use big words. But now I can see that’s not the case and I’m slowly unlearning that idea. Personally, I like to keep things simple. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I just love you! 😄 I once tried to sound clever but when I went back to my work, I couldn’t even figure out what I was trying to say. 😂 I like to learn new words (as English is not my first language) but it’s fun to google a word per chapter not per paragraph, not even per page. A difficult word sometimes takes the emotion away also because really, who talks like that? The queen? 😄 Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much, Sheryl 💖 It’s really just the natural thing to do because you have such wealth of knowledge for me. ☺ I still want to get published and the best people to give me advice are those who have published works behind their names, like you. 😆 Have a wonderful weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

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  8. It always is tough, or shall I say the toughest job to keep a balance between being simple and yet impressive (if impressing is one of the effects the writer wants to have on his/her readers).
    And I am still learning to create and maintain that balance in mine.
    I liked the crux of this post of yours, Sheryl. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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