While in the process of editing my novel, I’ve come across areas where I need improvement, and one of those areas is my word choice. Even my editor, Pat Lobrutto, stresses to me to keep my writing simple.
I think all of us like to show off now and then, but in writing, it is something you can’t afford to do. So now, I’m searching my manuscript for areas where I need to simplify.
Writing should be invisible. By invisible, I mean that readers, as they read, don’t notice the words but grasp only the idea the words relay.
Invisible writing is simple writing.
As I comb through my work, I’m looking for areas that have too much complex wordage, areas where I can say things in a simpler way that makes it effortless for the reader to comprehend.
As usual, editing your own work is a difficult task. We don’t always see our own mistakes. To try to catch the areas in my work where I have overdone my words, I go through the following steps:
Take out big words and replace them with simple ones – I try to remove unusual or uncommon words in a sentence. If I need or want to use an unusual or uncommon word that happens to suit well, I make sure to limit one of those per sentence.
Write for your audience – I try to write my sentences with the idea in mind that regardless of who is reading it, they will understand what I’m writing. Gearing my writing to approximately a grade nine reading level ensures everyone understands.
Clarify unfamiliar words – In fiction writing, especially in fantasy, where some words are “made up”, the reader needs to know what those words mean – no dictionary will tell them. I try through dialogue or added information, to explain the meaning to the reader. Specialized terminology or abstruse words, I think are often better replaced.
After taking away complex wordage, it is amazing how it makes not only the writing more understandable but also the story better.