Published by The Writing Parent, NAWW’s Feminine Writes Anthology, Winner Vocab-Confab Writing Contest at Fiction Fix Magazine and published on their website

Copyright 2000


Let’s intellectualize phraseology.  Vehement monomania appertaining to lexicon effectuates inventiveness, ingenuity, and unequivocally fecundity as well.


Verbiage is passion.  I agree.

But innumerable theorizers circumspectly articulate rumination in convoluted parlance, purporting that it surfeits one’s faculties, or philosophizes another’s.

I disagree.

The written and spoken word, in my utmost humble opinion, was created for the mere purpose of interaction, disclosing one’s needs, desires, and opinions to another.  All writers seek to convey revelations, whether to a small audience, a large readership, or one person. 

I liken a writer to a gourmet cook who fastidiously selects spices -- a pinch of this, teaspoon of that, none of this -- realizing the key to impeccable flavor lies not only in what he uses, but how much he uses.

Have you ever tasted a dish with too much curry, tarragon, or sage?  Spices improve and enhance.  However, when overused, the delicacy will not only be unpleasant, but downright lousy.

 While indulging in complex jargon, writers must first question their motives.  Is it to enlighten or frighten?  Communicate or intimidate?  Is the ultimate goal mystery or vanity?

I concur that writers who overindulge in complex verbiage fail to create mystery.  Anyone can look up a word to discover its meaning, no great feat and definitely no mystery.

Experiences, convictions, emotions, and passions create mystery.  How a reader interprets depends on his own depth, conviction, passion, and emotion.  How many times have we read or seen something that stirred our conscience and steered us toward change?  But had that specific image or picture been complex and confusing, would a transformation have taken place.  Could a transformation have taken place?

There are mysteries that allow you to ponder, conclude your own meaning.  Emily Dickinson provoked with thought, not complex words.

“A darting fear –- a pomp –- a tear -- 

A waking on a morn

To find that what one waked for,

Inhales the different dawn.”

Discover the simple language, deep thought.  That, my friend, is mystery.

Do writers use superfluous words to evoke readers?  Will “laboriousness” inspire any more than “difficulty”, or “manumission” more so than “liberation?  When two words possess the same meaning, why not use the more common form?  Might we fear that using a simpler form reflects our own intelligence and vocabulary?

Word painting is quite a separate matter.  Or is it?  Take for instance Charles Frazier’s ‘Cold Mountain’.

“At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring.  Inman’s eyes and the long wound at his neck drew them, and the sound of their wings and the touch of their feet were soon more potent than a yardful of roosters in rousing a man to wake.”

How about Jerry Spinelli’s ‘Maniac Magee’?

“They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump.  They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart a sofa spring.  They say he kept an eight-inch cockroach on a leash and that rats stood guard over him while he slept.  They say.”

Unpretentious words and meanings paint vivid pictures one is not apt to forget.

Don’t misunderstand this writer.  I adore increasing my vocabulary, and look forward to opportunities of applying new, challenging words.  I vent frustrations and voice opinions, but the last thing I want my reader to be forced to do is pull out a huge dictionary to look up words.  Why?  Because I know he won’t. My purpose in writing isn’t to teach new words, but convey relevant points.  I must discover a level of wordplay the majority of readers can appreciate, and toss in a few challenging words that enhance my literature and their reading potential.

“The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw is a wonderful example of ‘perfect gourmet writing’.

“The transformation in the life of Dorothy Haener as a result of World War II was distinctive and highly visible, but millions of other women were experiencing their own unique odysseys at home as a result of the gender climate changes brought on by the demand for men in fighting jobs.”

Most of the words used, though not at all simple, are comprehensible.  Notice how he slipped in the word “odysseys”.  The word may be complex to some, but it’s surrounded by a clear, understandable message.  Therefore, it serves to enhance, not confuse.  Now, that’s delectable.

Choose your words wisely.  Consider your audience, not to compromise your personal views, but to promote them.  The majority of your readers aren’t teachers, professors, or intellectuals, they are everyday people, rushing to work, taking care of families, dealing with everyday frustrations and trials, trying to grab an extra moment to relax, read a good book, story, or article.  Allow them to kick back, relax, and enjoy, without a five-pound dictionary in their lap.


Richelle Putnam is a former writer for All Headline News.  She has been published in Common Ties, E2K Literary Journal, World Wide Writers, Orchard Press Mysteries, Southern Hum, The Copperfield Review, Cayuse Press, Writer’s Journal, Obadiah Press’s Living By Faith Anthology, A tribute to Mothers Anthology, A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Daughters, and more.  Her children’s literature has been published on the Institute of Children’s Literature’s website, Writing Korner, and Wee Ones, Boy’s Quest, Appleseeds, and Hopscotch Magazine for Girls; Her work is soon to be released in Flashquake, Fireflies in Fruit Jars Anthology, and GCWA “Mississippi” Anthology. Her novel, Fallout, was released in 2000; She is the Founder and President of Mississippi Writers Guild.