Punctuality Rules!

Purposeful Complexity

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.

5 thoughts on “Purposeful Complexity

  1. John Roach

    While your enjoyment might be at least somewhat derived from the utilization of excessive verbiage, my own is hails solely from the usage of excessive semicolons and other, like-minded punctuation (I cannot remember if it was a university chum or just a story, but an anecdote comes to mind of a multi-paper term paper composed entirely of one sentence, with semicolons pushed well beyond their limit); in fact, when I’m feeling particularly saucy, I enjoy writing a Whitman-esque sentence that doesn’t so much inform as it does lead the reader into a darkened labyrinth, winding and twisting, until they arrive at their destination panting and lost, wondering not so much how they got to where they are, but why, and how to return to whence they came to make sense of the journey — before ultimately succumbing to mental fatigue, proclaiming their desire to “hang it all” and moving on to the next sentence, never realizing that there, in the middle of an otherwise innocuous dependent clause, I slipped in the whole point, along with any dirty bits that I might be so inclined as to write for that one particular project.

    John Roach’s last blog post..Common Comma Catastrophes

  2. Patty

    Does this look familiar?
    Auspicious Natal Anniversary, sibling,
    Salutations from your bipartisanship, Scorpian, vernal siblings, Debbie and Mustard. Receive this epistle with an unstinting heart and accumulate the entirety of my elite desiderates for you. You are presently septet and decennium perrinials aged.
    May you exercise this lexicon to the extent of its versility, ambidexterity and accomplishment in universlty and in your career.

  3. --Deb Post author

    Yes, well … for those of you who haven’t known me my entire life, that’s the letter I wrote my sister to go with her new dictionary when she graduated high school. Unfortunately, while I used a thesaurus to pick out some of the words, I didn’t check the actual definitions IN the dictionary, so looking back, it’s not quite as clever as I had thought at the time (grin). Not bad for a 14-15 year old though, right?

  4. Melissa Donovan

    I must confess that I find this task somewhat daunting, particularly after spending hours toiling at word crafting. Although I feel as though my mind is already eviscerated of its lingual content, I will attempt to fulfill your request. 😉

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..A Story for a Song