Remember Shashi Tharoor’s tweet around this time last year? His grand vocabulary elicited a “farrago” of trolls from creative Indians across the globe and kept people talking for a long time afterward. To say his choice of words confused the readers would be a gross understatement.
Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations&outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalst
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) 8 May 2017
Word: Farrago | fəˈrɑːɡəʊ
What Shirish Kunder says after an argument with his wife.
Example: “Farrago away yaar please”
— Akshar (@AksharPathak) 8 May 2017
We all can definitely share a laugh over how inventive some of these trolls are. But they also bring us to one of the greatest pitfalls in writing: Over-complication. Many people, especially those who are new to penning in English, are smitten with a need to overly complicate their writing. They use bulky words and unnecessarily long sentences to explain simple concepts. It is normally done in a bid to sound knowledgeable or cool. But more often than not, this backfires, leaving a lot of embarrassment in its wake.
Firstly, it is to be kept in mind that some occasions call for a different style of writing than others. They also require varying levels and tones of expression that only much practice and exposure can bring forth.
For instance, you can hardly write an academic paper the same way you write a travelogue. For a travelogue, you have to keep the tone light and the language simple while an academic paper should typically keep things matter-of-fact and serious. Also, you might be required to use jargons and wordier sentences for such papers. In other words, every piece that you write has a set objective to accomplish which dictates the style that you should adopt. But inexperience leads people to believe that the more intricate your writing is, the more brownie points you get every time and everywhere. This is not only untrue but also dangerous when you have a lot at stake: your job and reputation.
6 reasons why you should ditch the extravaganza and opt for a simpler approach in writing
1. It defeats the purpose
Keep in mind that you are writing for a target audience. Your goal is to draw them into your story and make them understand your point. Which is kind of hard when your writing sounds like Greek and Latin to the reader.
2. Makes you sound pretentious
Stretchy sentences and excessive use of jargons make it look as if you are trying too hard. To a trained eye, it even gives off an impression of amateurishness. No one wants to listen to a know-it-all, plain and simple. And remember, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
3. May make your readers feel insecure
So you are erudite, kudos to you. But also remember that you have nothing to gain by making your readers feel stupid for not knowing a word.
4. Upsets the balance in your writing
There is a level of sophistication in writing that is intense without being showy. And then there is pure showiness. Make sure that your language does not slip into the second category. It should have a natural flow and should be crisp and clear to the reader. Keep it modest, composed and balanced.
5. Makes you sound monotonous and boring
Excessive wordiness can make your language look clumsy and gaudy. Which brings us back to point 1. Suffice it to say that this is not the way you want to come across to the readers. Believe me, nobody wants to glance at a dictionary every few words into your story. It makes reading a very painful procedure.
6. Gives more room for embarrassing literary blunders
If you use fancy words without properly knowing their meaning or context, your language can do a lot of damage to your image. One of the deadliest sins you can commit is a malapropism. This is when a person mistakenly uses a word in place of another similar-sounding word. For instance, if you are complimenting someone on their work, it is probably best to say ‘meritorious’ instead of ‘meretricious.’ If you do not know either of these words, check them up in the dictionary and think about the implications of such a switch. And if there are important consequences on the line, your job, for instance, this amounts to public ridicule and professional suicide. So better play it safe if you are not sure.
Writing simply or straightforwardly does not mean you write insipidly. It also does not mean you shell out only shallow or superficial content. Deep concepts can be expressed using simple words too. In fact, that is the test of a good writer. Also, you need to understand that keeping it light and clutter-free does not mean you take out all the challenge from your writing. You just need to work on your technique in order to develop an enhanced, unique writing style of your own.
If any of this resonates with you, do not worry. Rome wasn’t built in a day. So be patient, keep practicing, and you’ll get there!