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And the Big Bad Word Huffed and Puffed

One of my nieces emailed me a story she wrote for school. She included this caveat: “I am very proud of this work even though it can’t be considered ‘talented’ writing because I don’t use big words or complex sentences.”

I used to think like that. I know some writers who still do.

Here’s what I wrote back: “By the way, I don’t think a writer necessarily needs to use big words or complex sentences in order for his or her writing to be considered talented. The right words and the right sentence structure determine whether a story is working. Many of the ‘greats’ – from Hemingway to Cormac McCarthy – are known for their sparse language. I think your story works so well because each word has a purpose and each sentence propels the story forward…that’s the sign of talented writing!”

Question: How’s your vocabulary?