Welcome to “Gutsy Writing” by Blake Snow—improve your writing in 5 minutes or less.
Several years ago, I was asked by a software director at one of the world’s largest technology companies to write a series of articles. He originally wanted me to explain the work his team was doing in a language that everyone understood. But as we talked further, he was having reservations about my breezy, informal writing style.
“Our audience doesn’t want to be talked down to,” he said, misinterpreting the point of clear writing, everyday speech, and simple words. “They take their work seriously, so the writing must use complex language and terminology.”
This was pure ego. Like some people, he needed big, technical words to feel good about the important work he was doing. And he was willing to sacrifice clarity, better readability, and greater reach to feel good about his highly technical job.
It was obvious I wasn’t a good fit, so I wished him luck in finding someone else. But my meetings with him underscored a cardinal rule that every novelist, journalist, and nonfiction writer adheres to:
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If you can saying something with one syllable that can be said with two or more syllables, always use the shorter word. Your writing and readership will be better for it.
Need help writing this year? I know a really good guy. Thanks for reading.