I really enjoy reading, especially in retirement, and more so with Covid (got a lot of time on my hands) I’m always surprised to see the volume of books published and completely perplexed at how many really bad books are out there. Story lines are weak and predictable, and too often themes are repetitive. God help me if I read one more book on the 2nd world war! After all those who lived through it recount their experiences, and the volumes and volumes of articles and books written about it, surely we have to have exhausted that topic? Apparently not, so my search for something new and interesting continues, and while I don’t love the repetition of storylines (there’s a lot of copy-cats out there) I would take that over a ‘wordy’ piece of work any day.

The most recent book I read is a good example of just that. The author goes on, and on, and on with a lot of unnecessary descriptions. This particular book is set in the English countryside, in an old manor house that is surrounded by extensive gardens. The main character loves the Azaleas  that line the property and relishes their scent when in bloom. I get it…..but clearly the author believes she needs to reinforce the vision, repeatedly for the reader because she spent two and a half pages describing their scent. I  couldn’t believe it. I literally had to go back and count it out.

Now what is her motivation here? Is it to educate the reader?………cause you’d have to be pretty stupid not to get the gist of it in a couple of short lines. They’re pretty flowers that smell nice, and since they lend nothing to the plot of the story why give them centre stage? By the time I got through those two and a half pages I’d forgotten the story line and had to skim over the previous pages to find my place. (not a book I’ll recommend)

Another pet peeve of mine are the authors who use big words unnecessarily. They use a lot of vague expressions, often incorporating little known big words. Well I have one for them – Grandiloquence“. It means “big talk” also known as “longwindedness.” If I have to reference a dictionary while reading an interest book you can bet I won’t read more than one of that authors works,,,,and I may not even finish the first. Get real, get a sense for your audience,,,,and get over yourself. You wanna preach vocabulary, become an English teacher.  Don’t write an interest novel intended for the general public and understand that too many words can often cloud a story’s true meaning, or bore your reader to death, neither of which bodes well for promoting you as an author. Get to the point,,,,because there’s a lot to be said for simplicity.

If there’s one thing this exercise has taught me, it’s to appreciate a really good writer, because there are so few of them. Dazzle me with your imagination, not your excessive knowledge of excessive words. Spin me a tale that will captivate me as a reader but don’t make me think too hard because I read for pleasure. (If I want technical knowledge I’ll read the encyclopedia) And for heavens’ sake don’t take me for stupid, i.e. assume that your reader understands that an Azalea smells good, in under 3000 words.

One thought on “Too Many Words

  1. Very well said! 👏👏
    As an English teacher I always told my students to use simple words and good grammar. What matters is the thought; one cannot gild stupidity with long words!


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