Archive: August 9th, 2008

Purposeful Complexity

Kenneth over at Manage Your Writing spoke the other day about the importance of keeping things simple. He reminds us that, “Some research shows that when readers and listeners can’t understand your sentences, they think of you as less intelligent, not more.”

j0174966.jpgI certainly agree with that. Unnecessarily complex sentence construction confounds your readers’ need for clarity. The multisyllabic nature of university-level vocabulary may make your writing appear too obscure and obtuse for the average reader–not that any readers are truly average. They’ll start thinking you have something to hide.

Even if that vocabulary doesn’t turn them away, it’s going to make you look smug and conceited and elitist, using four-dollar words when one-dollar words would do.

All very true.

But, um, am I alone?

It’s FUN.

You heard me. I think it’s fun to pull out the vocabulary and stretch it as far as I can go.

This has to be done in moderation, of course. Let’s not get crazy. Like eating rich food, a little goes a long way.

But, the good part? Trying to expand your sentences to encompass those four-dollar words forces you to leave your comfort zone, to use some words that don’t get out of the dictionary very often.

And did I mention that it’s kind of fun? As an exercise, of course. Just once in a while.

Let’s give it a try, together.

Compose a suitable response, bearing in mind the thought that strengthening your verbal  muscles can only ever be beneficial for a person who remands words to paper, and enter it into the appropriately-named comment box found below this post. Leave multi-tiered sentences with layers of meaning and an excess of phrases and clauses that may seem unnecessarily verbose but which, in reality, manifest themselves of a single thought, however complex. Confide in me your deepest desire to confuscate and confound, impress and impose, show-off and show-up using nothing but the native skill of your brain’s use of language.

In other words, play along and leave me a comment, the more verbose the better.

It’s not something I encourage you to indulge in often, but then, neither is cheesecake–but once in a while? It tastes oh, so good on the tongue.