Why I Don’t Fill My Books with Big Words

If you use a lot of big words, that means you’re smart, right? And clearly, it means your writing is better, right?

Not necessarily.

Some people prefer five dollar words, but personally, I like to keep my words small. Or at least, common.

There are many reasons, and today, I’ll be going over a few of them.

Big words aren’t necessary.

It is completely possible to get a point across without replacing a ton of words with synonyms that add syllables or seeking out obscure words that no one uses. Common language is more than capable of conveying meaning and depth.

Flow and Immersion

If a reader has to stop over and again to Google a word, that means they’re setting the book down and breaking immersion. And who wants that?

Readers want to be sucked in, and writers want their readers to be sucked in.

So what’s the point in using a bunch of obscure words that will break the illusion we’re trying so hard to build?

What are we trying to prove?

I don’t need to prove my intelligence, and you don’t either. Intelligence stands on its own. People are intuitive and can usually tell whether someone is smart. Throwing in a bunch of massive synonyms doesn’t make you look smarter.

Synonyms aren’t always the same.

Sometimes, a big fancy synonym means something slightly different than the word you actually mean. Sometimes, a synonym has a secondary meaning that is completely different than what you actually mean.

Changing that one word could change the whole sentence.

Why not just say what you mean?

Gatekeeping

I don’t want readers to come away from my book wondering why other people liked it. I don’t want readers to think my work is too convoluted or self-important for anyone with less than a master’s degree to read.

I could throw in a bunch of psychological jargon, but what good would that do? It wouldn’t improve my fantasy novel.

I want people to understand the meaning of my books without getting a bachelor’s degree.

And shouldn’t you?

I’m not fancy.

As a whole, I am not a fancy person. I barely bother with makeup (eye liner, and that’s about it). I wear jeans and a t-shirt most days, especially on days that I work. On days off, it’s because it’s comfortable. On work days, it’s because I don’t want to have any nice clothes torn up at the factory.

Basically, I’m not fancy. So why paint some false picture of myself with a bunch of fancy words in my books?

I write emotion first, themes second.

Emotions are best described in bodily terms, in my opinion. Clenched fists or eyes sparkling with a smile. Hammering hearts or gritted teeth.

Getting too cerebral with the description can actually take away from the scene.

And since I write emotion first and themes second, getting that emotion across in a way that makes the reader feel it is important to me.

So, unless it’s the best word for the situation or the character, I leave the big words out of it.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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