There is folly in creating beautiful sentences that don’t have much meaning, at least not to an unsuspecting reader. George Orwell cautioned, “Never use a long word where a short word will do. " Our job, as writers, is to entertain or inform our readers, not “teach" them. Most folks, when reading about “the mellifluous melody wafting from the violin, " don’t know—without rushing to the dictionary—whether the violinist is caressing the air with sweetness or assaulting it with an ear-splitting screech. Most readers will not take time to look up words, certainly not a lot of words, within an article or book. They will simply pass over those words, guessing at meanings; or, in frustration, they’ll toss the material into the nearest wastebasket.
Examples: Mendacity, when insincerity will do. Multifarious, which should be replaced with diverse. Concatenation is more easily a series of things. Even the slightly more familiar conundrum is merely a riddle. A word often used these days is hubris. Don’t want to look it up? It means, simply, arrogance.
In addition to the length of words, we can learn much from great writers, past and present, regarding the use of too many words:
Janet Litherland is the author of the novels, Vanished, Chain of Deception, and Discovery In Time, as well as 10 nonfiction books, several collections of music/drama-related scripts, and numerous articles and stories for national publications. As former associate editor of Florida Hotel & Motel Journal, she contributed 78 feature articles to that magazine. She also has taught college extension courses in creative writing and has served as a seminar leader for writers’ conferences.
For more information, please visit http://www.janetlitherland.com