Ever Worry About Your Writing?

big words   I HAVE READ good books; my eyes have been cast across pages of bad books, and those inbetween – regardless of writing style, the stories can be brilliantly told and executed. But sometimes, from time to time, when busting out a short story, I start to worry that my product is basic and not at all like the ‘mature’ books or classics beloved by nobody (well a few, because they were told they were classics ergo quality writing).

Ok, ok, I don’t really want to write like Dickens or Thomas Hardy, their writing styles are irrelevant in our age of books – I’m not saying they aren’t fantastic examples of literature from that era. The prose is sluggish and difficult to get through. People had more time then to develop characters and describe every crack in the floor of someones house, or the number of stitches in someone’s jacket. Books were different then but well used language provided it isn’t excessive, is a delight to read.

What I really mean is I find it difficult/ troublesome/ problematic/ or operose writing stories that are sufficiently verbose to interest the reader and keep everything interesting, without arrogantly overusing large words to make myself seem more intelligent. It seems to be a fine balance. An OCD part of me cringes everytime I use ‘the’, ‘and’ or other basic words, yet they are obviously necessary and I didn’t have a problem with these until someone pointed it out – not in my own writing- but in someone else’s.

Do you simply keep a thesaurus handy and add in the odd juicy word? It shouldn’t be forced obviously, and of course there are writers who stick to ordinary language like Stephen King, who’s a real up and comer so I’ve heard. What’s your verdict when it comes to bolstering your writing while avoiding looking like a spelling bee’s practice sheet?

6 Comments

  1. I must admit that I used to fling in new words in an attempt to impress anyone who happened to read one of my stories, but I agree with you, it’s difficult to find a balance. I don’t know whether you have come across ‘My Writer’s Circle,’ or maybe you’re on it already, but I’ve found it so helpful for beta readers, as they very quickly pounce on any verbose language or purple prose. I’ve ‘killed quite a few of my little darlings’ since being on there! Plus one of my favourite short story writers is Raymond Carver and he uses very simple words.

    1. Ultimately you have to write naturally to your own style, and over time you can develop a different style or write in different ones on purpose. Big words don’t equate to good reading, which is the key thing I try to remember. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. The biggest problem for me is the repetition of common words. It sounds unbalanced when you read aloud. So, yes, a thesaurus is handy but I try to be careful not to overdue the substitution, nor to sound like a school teacher. It’s tricky having to avoid both extremes.

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