A question asked by many and many have attempted to answer it. Here’s my attempt.
First and foremost in my mind writing is communication.
What is effective and intelligent communication?
I have read up on the subject and the underlying idea is that if you want to be intelligent about the way you communicate you do it simply. You communicate in a way that even a child would be able to understand what you are talking about. It’s why most news papers are written at 7th grade level of reading.
Intelligence has nothing to do with education. In fact studies over the years have shown that to succeed at being educated takes a lower level of intelligence.
Even the Air Force Technical Orders or tech manuals that told us how to run advanced electronics were designed so that anyone regardless of education can understand them. It helped to have the electronics background and I was taught advance electronic theory, however if my team was killed in action someone could follow the T.O. and still run the equipment.
Why use a multi-syllabic word when a single syllable word will suffice/do.
If I was to choose “suffice” it would be to appear more educated. Choosing the word “do” shows I am more interested in getting to the point than showing off.
Human beings love to show off. Look at any small child asking you to “look what I can do” and for the most part we never grow past that in some ways. We are always trying to show people what we can do. It’s why social media works. A bunch of us saying “look what I can do.”
Take a second and note I said us. Why would I write at all unless I wanted people to see what I can do?
I have seen a recent run of articles posted up by Milos Djukic that include the advice to the scientific community to make things easier for everyone to understand. Or to say I am not the only one who noticed that the simple expression is the better expression for the sum.
There is even a quote that gets argued about from Einstein where he says something to the effect that if you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it either. I paraphrase on purpose to make it simpler.
That sometimes is exactly what intelligent communication is, paraphrasing and taking the needless details out to show one understands the concepts to find greater clarity.
When it gets into the idea of fictional writing the multi-syllabic words come to the foreground.
Metaphor, narrative, context, subtext, imagery and other words that are used to educate us on how to write fiction and create a world for the reader to explore. However I can’t stand to read some authors who take six paragraphs to describe a blade of grass.
There is an art to writing a complex story that creates illusions in the mind. At times the simplistic approach still works. It depends on the story you are telling.
Let’s think about something for a minute.
I am not the only human being that has dyslexia. The dyslexia makes it difficult for dyslexics to read large paragraphs. It looks like word soup and why there is a lot of content on beBee and other places I don’t read. It’s too painful.
There are millions and millions of dyslexic people in the world that many writers alienate because of their writing style. It’s why I rarely have any long paragraphs in what I write. Too hard to edit. It’s why I edit my work 3 and 4 times and still miss typos or leave words out. It’s why I don’t mind when I get the occasional message in my inbox that I might want to fix something in one of my buzzes.
Who you are as a writer and your style should be as individual as you are. When you copy other peoples systems you are limiting your own expression.
We write to communicate something and the larger the audience that can understand what you are trying to communicate is how you measure if it is effective or not. Anything beyond that and your splitting hairs and run the risk of coming off as an elitist.
Never be afraid of being to simplistic in your writing, it might be just what you need to find a larger audience.