Simplicity in Writing Doesn't Have to be Boring
But you have to love words.
The call for simplicity and clarity in writing is a good one, but business writing smoothed over by Grammarly has created a vast desert of sameness with readers parched and desperate for an oasis.
Is this wasteland our future? If so, we might as well hand over the keys to ChatGPT right now.
But being simple and clear doesn't mean "boring." Let's take one rule as an example.
Rule: Use the simplest word possible.
People think this means they need to dumb down their writing to the lowest common denominator and be slaves to the Hemingway app. It's true that people use big words when they want to sound smart. Their hands have papercuts from all the flipping they do through the thesaurus.
Don't write "utilize" when "use" works just fine.
Another example: Memoriter - By, or from, memory; by heart. In almost every case, you would just want to use "by heart" or "from memory." More people will understand it intuitively.
Or how about gerent - a manager. Just use "manager."
On the other hand, this doesn't mean you should stay away from complicated or big words. Sometimes these words can bring the simplicity and clarity you are looking for.
Bunburying - Avoiding one's duties and responsibilities by claiming to have appointments to see a fictitious person.
Altricial - (Of a young bird or other animal) Hatched or born helpless and requiring significant parental care. Often contrasted with precocial.
At the right moment and in the right context, either of these words saves me from a whole bunch of lollygagging. I can cut out whole sentences. Both words contain immense descriptive power. I'm not dancing around the edges of the painting, trying to get you to look inside the frame. I'm pointing right at the picture. As a result, my writing is cleaner.
There are even times when you want to use "Memoriter" or "Gerent," maybe for poetry or because it makes a sentence sing like nothing else. But only use it if you know it. Don't go searching for complicated words.
Love words. See how they taste in the mouth and sound in the ear. Fill your toolbox with them and learn to use them.
M.A. Franklin's Bluster and Brine is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.