Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keeping It Simple

A few weeks ago at a church picnic I met a nice young man from South Korea who is in the U.S. attending flight school. We sat at the same picnic table and had marvelous conversation, me inquiring about life in South Korea, and he about life here. He speaks great English, but carefully chooses his words and enunciates with precision. Despite the language barrier, we understood each other.

As a reader, I want novels to entertain me. I don’t want to have to experience deep thinking to understand what I’m reading. I do understand why some writers use elaborate, lofty, thought-provoking words because it's their style. I’m sure many readers enjoy that, but I don’t.

Recently I read a book by a known author. I loved his first book. In fact, I devoured it, and then read it a second time. So I was excited when a friend gave me a copy of his second book. It, too, is an amazing story, but PLEASE! Spare me the vocabulary journey of intellectual spout. It wasn’t necessary to tell the story. He was “birthed in an explosion of light, an inner expanding universe coalescing its own internal solar systems and galaxies with unimagined symmetry and elegance.”  Please, just say you were born!  And he described employees as fawning sycophants in another paragraph filled with lofty, uncommon words. I admit, although I have an intelligent grasp on vocabulary, I did look up sycophants.

My point is this – who are you trying to impress with your writing? Your average reader gets bogged down with deep-thinking descriptions. However, I guess it really, really boils down to who is your target audience?

To relate to my young, new friend from South Korea, we had to communicate well enough to understand each other without thinking of the meaning of what the other said. Know your target audience and write accordingly.

By the way, the above book I mentioned, I absolutely fell in love with it at chapter nine.


  1. Wow! "Birthed in an explosion of light!" That is quite a mouthful of words! Although, I do have a fondness for 'sycophants', after I heard it first describing attendees at an author reading of "Snow Falling on Cedars". Fun post, Leola!

  2. Great reminder, Leola! I don't enjoy lofty explanations either. When I see them my mind glazes over and I have to read a passage a few times to get it. Off to look up sycophants.

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