Asked • 06/25/19

When is a lack of long, sophisticated words to describe an otherwise simple concept bad?

Reading books of Dan Brown and that sort (pardon my inability to produce any other relevant examples off the top of my head) gives off the impression to budding writers that novels need to have a minimum standard of vocabulary, in order to be taken seriously or for the story to be more interesting. At least that's what it makes me think. It puts off average English speakers like me from even attempting to write anything impactful, let alone a novel. I've read few novels where the language is on par with what people use in day-to-day life (albeit my collection of read books is limited mostly to classics and thrillers, both of which tend to use gaudy words every now and then). The case with classics is understandable as even the normal language back then used to be more complex than what it's now (just look up at any Shakespeare piece, although that would probably be a tad too extreme). Thrillers, on the other hand, have this tendency to employ crisp and sophisticated vocabulary to set a certain mood.Samples of what I usually end up writing (when I'm not trying too hard and just casually typing my mind away):1. >Tea-making was art. >I was fascinated, entranced by those fluid, graceful hand movements of that chaiwala, nimbly dipping the glass cups into hot water and pouring milk, tea, and *gur* one at a time. >I hadn’t realised I had voiced the exclamation. My doting aunt and uncle had charming smiles in response, with an all-too-familiar all-knowing look. It plagued me to imagine I had thought anything less of it. It was pathetic how urban juveniles, myself included, underestimated the classic villages back here. Granted, it had none of the poshness and luxurious comfort that allowed us delicate little things to get shamelessly pampered. But it was more raw and downright ‘fresh’ than anything I had ever encountered back home in Dhaka. It was pathetic.2. >My stomach did a series of somersaults within a mere fraction of a second when I spotted the 5-storeys tall building. We had arrived. I sat still, watching my mum bargain with the rickshaw-walla. Her lips pressed into a thin line; that was all I needed before I jumped down the rickshaw and hobbled my way up the long fifteen steps before stepping into the cool, refreshing air-conditioned room and into the limelight. >Almost as soon I heaved the door in, I could feel a slew of all-penetrating rays escaping from 60 pairs of young eyes boring into my shaking person. Their line of sight seemed to be aligned on me. >My heart stopped for the tiniest of moments when I spotted him in the back. ***No.***3. >Suddenly, my stomach convulsed with violent cramps. It was the beginning of something red and nasty. Period. >I instinctively called out, “Uhmm, sir, I’m feeling sick.” The said sir concernedly rushed up to me and kindly asked whether I wanted to leave or go on to do rest of the class. I replied that a few minutes’ break would suffice, which he didn’t get. He assumed I hadn’t wanted to leave and simply went back. I don’t want to dwell on the fact that his English was woefully defective. >After a little coaxing from some girls who were seated next to me, I managed to squeak out (in English, might I add): “Can I just leave?” in a voice that was the epitome of girlish timidity. >He consented to my very innocent request. I simply packed my bag and dashed out. However I had to go through that boy to get to the exit. (He was sitting a couple of rows ahead.) And I somewhat awkwardly managed to heave myself through the heavy door and flee. When does such a style get too simplistic for the average reader's taste? How much more polishing does it need to get close to being of a publishable standard?I'm aware that they aren't perfect at any rate; they're to represent what my first drafts typically look like.

1 Expert Answer


Christine S. answered • 06/25/19

Fun and reliable

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