Write on KISS

Write On: KISS

By on June 17, 2014 . Category Column

Pucker up, it’s time to KISS:

Keep

It

Simple

Stupid

The first time I heard this acronym was in college and truthfully I was a bit taken aback when a professor used a term with “stupid” in it.  Over the years, I’ve developed a mild affection for its vulgarity, because it speaks the truth. It gets right down to it, which is the entire point of the term.

Fast forward to my mentor and she puts it a little differently: Just say it.

I have a bad habit of overwriting. I think many authors are guilty of this. Part of you is trying to prove you have a stellar vocabulary.  See, I can write – I just used a 5-syllable word.  Before every verb or noun you add a slew of adjectives and then you go to your Thesaurus to “upgrade” the laundry list of unnecessary descriptors.  Let’s be honest, half the time you don’t even know what you’re saying by the time it’s all said and done.  So KISS.

With age comes the proverbial wisdom and what I’m learning is that the tell-tale sign of a good writer isn’t using big words.  It’s knowing them and then knowing when to use them.  Unless your main character is a hot shot brainiac scientist, no one speaks like that.  So just say it.

Here’s an example:

The unique, ground-breaking, revolutionary product is so versatile and compatible with a plethora of systems, it can be officially categorized as user-friendly.

Why can’t you just say it’s easy to use?  It’s faster and gets right to the point.  Readers are so much smarted than we give them credit for.  They can infer that an easy-to-use product is unique, versatile, and compatible in context.  It’s not always necessary to spell everything out.  In fact, it can backfire on you.  You don’t want to insult your reader and you don’t want your reader to glaze over with boredom.    You want them actively engaged and invested in your writing.  So give ‘em a smooch and then Write On

 

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  • Evil Peanut

    *Raises hand* Guilty as charged! Very good article, I think this will improve my writing. Instead of using words no one uses, I’ll use ones they will. It doesn’t make the story any less meaningful, it just makes it more realistic.

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