And the Big Bad Word Huffed and Puffed

17/01/13 7:00 AM

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?

Posted by Robyn | in Creative Writing | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “And the Big Bad Word Huffed and Puffed”

  1. Ghenet Myrthil Says:

    I agree! It’s about finding the right word, not the longest/biggest word.

  2. Peter D. Mallett Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Writing is not about impressing others with your vocabulary, it is about communication. The more effectivly you get your ideas from one person to another, the better job you have done.

  3. Steve Tannuzzo Says:

    Agreed, in your niece’s case. I do think, however, that building a strong vocabulary will help a writer find the right word to propel the story. These shouldn’t include long words to be used in place of others to seem “writerly.” Instead, impactful words–particularly verbs–will paint the clearest picture for the reader.

  4. Robyn Says:

    @Steve — good point.