Using Simpler Words in your writing

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I just began reading “The Book on Writing”, by Paula LaRocque. I’m only about 25 pages in and have already learned a couple of things about making your writing more readable and understandable. One thing the author suggests is to keep your average word count at about 20 words per sentence. Another thing she suggests is to use simple words instead of complicated ones when possible. The author gave an example of high school students who were given a writing exercise. In the writing exercise the students were to write an essay using only one syllable words. This was interesting, so I thought I would give this exercise a try. For simplicity, here is a short summary of my day yesterday (in one syllable words):

My day was great. I went to work at the start of my day. Work was a breeze and went by quick. When work was done, I went home and picked up the house some. I was about to go buy some food to fill up the fridge, but then thought that the fridge should be cleaned first. It was in dire need! And so I cleaned it. It took me a good hour or so to get it cleaned up real good, but it looked great in the end. So then off to the store I went. I went to two stores. I got a ton of food. I got home and then had to put it all away. Ugh!  Then I was in need of a break. I plopped down on the couch. I watched the tube for as long as it took me to drink a nice cold beer. It was late in the day so I thought I should cook some of that food up. I made tacos and boy were they good! We had rice as well. That was great too! By this time, all were full and tired. We watched a show or two on the tube and then it was time for bed. It was a good day.

Okay so I had two words with two syllables (away and tacos), but I think I did pretty good otherwise. Of course there will be times when the words needed are just bigger words and there is no simpler substitute. That is fine. The idea is just to keep your words and sentences simple and readable overall. I have always been one to go to the thesaurus to make my words more interesting. But it makes perfect sense that the reading is much smoother and more understandable when the reader doesn’t have to deal with a bunch of gobbledygook and long, complicated sentences. That last sentence was long, right? The author suggests that when you must use a long sentence, to use a short sentence before and/or after it. Great advice! Anyway, I’m really enjoying the book and the author’s advice so far. I would definitely recommend this book to any beginning or skilled writer: “The Book on Writing”, by Paula LaRocque.

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