Clear writing - less is more.
Written by
Nissi Mutale
May 2012
Written by
Nissi Mutale
May 2012

Every so often I like to go back to the basics. It is easy to get caught up in  trying to impress our imagined audience. However sometimes the craft becomes too crafty and loses it's meaning - (A bit like this sentence). In a bid to come up with a new way of expressing an idea or stepping out of the box, we lose our reader along the way. I remember the first year of my Literature degree, I was so sure of my writing ability and the big words I was encouraged by my secondary school teachers to research and use. It was time to hand in my first assignment and I was pretty sure I would fly through the course with very little to worry about. However when I got my paper back and the measly 50 something percent attached to my review sheet, my heart sank. The lecturer explained that I was often unclear and although he new what I was trying to say, the sentences were too convoluted. He advised me that it was best to use the most basic way of saying things. That's when I saw that language was changing.

Contrary to some older essays and scripts where it seemed the writer was trying to catch the reader out by using all the most complicated words he could find, writers are now encouraged to relate and make it easy for their audience to understand. Reading 21st century novels it's great to see the way language is opening up to be inclusive. Whenever I get lost in my words and find myself a little confused I simply remind myself that less is more and simplify what I am saying. 

Nissi x

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  • Hello Nissi - Thank you for your post.

    I agree with the statement less is more. Most new writers, including myself, need to learn to edit and slash. However, that does not mean we have to dilute the vocabulary. I believe that it is more important to ensure each word used is vital and adds meaning to the story, and each word moves the story forward keeping up the momentum and tension.

    Language does appear to be changing - we live in a new generation that scans rather than embrace.  This makes using our words wisely all the more important.