Bigger Isn't Always Better
Last Modified: 06/11/2017
(TED) Simplicity is the key to effective writing.
- 1We all know this scene.
- 2Dorothy closes her eyes and repeats the good witch's mantra:...
- 3..."No coordinates exist like one's domicile."
- 4Only Dorothy doesn't say that; she says five one-syllable words:...
- 5..."There's no place like home."
- 6Each a word you probably learned in your first year of speaking, each perfectly concise.
- 7It's not that L. Frank Baum didn't have a thesaurus,...
- 8...it's that in most cases, ten-dollar words fail.
- 9Would Aerosmith have had a hit with "Ambulate This Direction"?
- 10Probably not.
- 11Would Patrick Henry have ignited a revolution by saying...
- 12..."Provide me with liberty or bestow upon me fatality."
- 14When it comes to words, bigger isn't always better.
- 15Ten-dollar words are rendered worthless if they're not understood.
- 16That's not to say every piece of literature should be written out of fourth grade reading level,...
- 17...but it is important to know your audience.
- 18If you're a novelist, your audience is probably expecting 300 pages of vivid descriptors.
- 19...at the very least, they're expecting you won't use the same 50 words to fill those pages.
- 20But most of us don't have the luxury of a captive audience.
- 21We're competing against a whole world of distractions,...
- 22...and we're fighting for space in an attention span that continues to shrink across generations.
- 23So get to the point already.
- 24Variety may be the spice of life, but brevity is its bread and butter.
- 25So when it comes to ten-dollar words, save your money and buy a Scrabble board