Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Writing Focus: "You sure use some stuffy language, bleh..."

Here's something that I don't think that a lot of people legitimately have a problem with, but it's something I personally address all of the time: getting lost in big words. People like accreditation, yes? The problem comes when you're fumbling through a thesaurus trying to find the largest, four-syllable synonym you come across just so that you can use it in a sentence. See, the problem isn't in the word usage as much as it's probably in the voice.

Ways to combat this:

Elaborate words, incidentally, are not a prerequisite for a labyrinthine, yet, unequivocal piece of writing. You just need to get to the point, yo. I'm personally a fan of people who use the language rather strategically--flowery enough to provide accreditation, yet, simple enough for me to NOT think that this just another haughty person who's trying to impress me with big words. Just say what you're trying to say; you don't need a mess of four-syllable nonsense. 

Next, try writing in active voice instead. You'd be surprised with how much your writing will change when you switch from writing in passive voice! Here's a nifty site with some easy-to-follow tips with how to switch to active voice and what it means. Active Voice Tips


  1. Josh, I really like this post. I remember once in my writing career the thesaurus tool on Microsoft Word was my best friend. Maybe that is why I won so many writing competitions because I was an eighth grade student that couldn’t possibly know that kind of language. Somewhere along the way I have gotten out of that fake writing, possibly with are I feel I have no reason to impress people. I write how I want. Do my writings have problems? Yes, of course, no one is perfect.

  2. Josh, I totally agree. Sometimes the big words are not necessary and can make the reader lose focus. It is understanding if the person is writing their thesis for a doctorate degree or something. Some people use them just to sound smarter or to impress when it's really just confusing. I like the website you referenced it gave structure on how to go from basic speaking to elaborating the correct way.