for writers and readers….

The trouble with using long words…Stephen King QUOTES FOR WRITERS (and people who like quotes)

embarrassed boyOne of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, working for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed, and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.
Stephen King

18 comments on “The trouble with using long words…Stephen King QUOTES FOR WRITERS (and people who like quotes)

  1. Mira Prabhu
    June 10, 2018

    Reblogged this on mira prabhu.

  2. ksbeth
    June 10, 2018


    • bridget whelan
      June 10, 2018

      Yep and pretty similar to George Orwell’s rules for writing “when instict fails”
      1) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
      2) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
      3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
      4) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
      5) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
      6) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

  3. The Owl Lady
    June 10, 2018

    Reblogged this on Viv Drewa – The Owl Lady.

  4. Stevie Turner
    June 10, 2018

    Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    I used some medical terminology (not a lot though) in ‘A House Without Windows’ because the main character is a doctor and that’s how she would think. One reviewer complained that some of the words I was using were too long and difficult!

    • bridget whelan
      June 10, 2018

      But there are times when long words are the right words and one of those times is when you a creating vocabulary approriate for the character which sounds like the case in your novel. Thanks for reblogging.

  5. robbiesinspiration
    June 10, 2018

    I think Stephen King makes a lot of sense here. I sometimes read things that include so many complex words it is difficult to understand what it being said. Shorter words are powerful and punchy.

    • bridget whelan
      June 10, 2018

      I think it’s always worth questioning why the author uses complex vocabulary. If it’s for precision or because of a lack of an everyday alternative, or because you’re writing for a specialist readership who are comfotable with the jargon of your shared trade/profession ok, but often it’s simply to show off. (I’m beginning to sound like my mother!)

  6. freiedenkerin
    June 10, 2018

    That’s absolutely true.

  7. John Holton
    June 10, 2018

    Wasn’t it Winston Churchill that said “Short words are preferable to long words, and short words that are old words are best of all”? Smart man, Mr. Churchill.

    • bridget whelan
      June 10, 2018

      Thank you for this – haven’t come across it before. Reminded that Jonathan Swift used to read to his servants at the end of a day’s writing. If there was a word or an expression they didn’t understand he would strike it out

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This entry was posted on June 10, 2018 by in Quotes and tagged , , , , .


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