Complex Vocabulary in Fiction



Don’t get hung up on complex vocabulary.

Writing should always be simple and direct. The whole purpose of writing a story is to communicate your ideas to the person who is reading it. So if you confuse your reader with big words, you will be doing yourself a disservice.

Now, you could have a character in your story who is addicted to using big words. You can have fun with a character like this and way back in 1775, Richard Sheridan did



this to great effect in his play The Rivals. His character, Mrs. Malaprop thought she was extremely high and mighty and used words she thought were correct, but were wrong.

Example: Mrs. Malaprop said, “Illiterate him quite from your memory” (she meant obliterate) and “She’s as headstrong as an allegory” (but meant alligator). As you see, the words almost sound right, but are actually nonsensical.

While you don’t want to talk down to your reader, you do want to write in a simple way that is understandable to all. If you read masters like Hemingway and John Steinbeck, they write simple and elegant prose and rarely use complex vocabulary. Learn from them and ditch the big words. They won’t serve you well. You will just come across as a pompous writer who is talking down to the reader.

Learn more through these links to Writer’s Digest:

4 Tips to Improve Your Writing Instantly
Write a Standout Chapter 1
A Writer’s Guide to the Web

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