1. mVd
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    mVd Member

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    Writing too simplified

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mVd, May 18, 2012.

    Hello,

    Since English is not my native language, i have a problem with writing stories in too simplified English. My knowledge of the language is great, but i am used to writing in a simplified form and not use words that are not commonly used. I really want to start using them, since i believe they are the key to increasing your vocabulary and the reader's.

    So what you do suggest how to improve in this matter?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It is more important to write clearly, with accurate use of words than to try to dazzle readers with a sumptuous vocabulary. While it is great to possess a rich vocabulary, it is far more important to use each word correctly, and to understand its nuances, not only its broad dictionary definition.

    By all means, expand your vocabulary. Do so by reading good literature, and pay attention to the context in which new (to you) words are used.

    New writers often make the mistake of using half-understood words in their writing, often dredged from a thesaurus. The result is generally laughable, or worse yet, makes the reader cringe.

    Try not to trust your understanding of a word from only a single use. You may miss the fine connotations in a single context. Furthermore, you cannot always be certain the author used the word correctly.

    The dictionary can give you the denotation, which is the meaning of the word in the strictest sense. There may even be hints about the connotation (the implied meaniings that accompany the word) in examples, but you may miss the fact that certain words only fit well in certain contexts.

    Clarity is king. Precision is the crown prince.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the best way to improve and increase your vocabulary, aside from reading good writing, is to do the ny times daily crossword puzzles till you can finish them in under 30 minutes--in ink!

    then, graduate to the sunday ones... when you can complete them correctly in ink, in under 30 minutes, your vocabulary will be in fine shape... keep a regular dictionary handy not to help you solve the puzzle, but only to look up and study the meanings of all the new words you'll come across...

    keeping an unabridged dictionary on the kitchen/dining room table to browse through while you eat is also recommended... and keep another in the bathroom, to make good use of 'sitting' and bathtub-soaking time...
     
  4. Reptile Hazard
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    Reptile Hazard Member

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    I have the same problem you do, mVd, and Cogito's advice is one you should keep with you until you master the language (or, at least have a very good understanding of it.)

    I write in simplified English too, but I find it better than to use words I don't know the meaning of. As you keep reading (in whatever genre you're interested, or just about anything you like) you're going to start getting used to certain words used in those genres; but be sure to understand the context in which the word was used.
     
  5. Squeakyfiend
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    Squeakyfiend Member

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    Realistically in most cases, simplified English is better. The priority is making sure the reader understands your writing.

    I have a friend who was born in England but spent his whole school years in Spain. Obviously he's fluent in both languages, but sometimes it'll be throwing as he'll use a word or two that you wouldn't normally hear in a regular conversation. For example, I would say 'You should change that.', whereas he'd use a word such as modify.

    In my opinion, the simpler the language (while still allowing you to accurately describe what's going on) the better.
     
  6. Kay Lesgo
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    Kay Lesgo Member

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    I am learning Spanish and someone mentioned they usually think in a simplified version of their own language and translate that so that vocabulary doesn't get in the way. The opposite might work for you. Think "grandly" in your native language and write it down. Try translating your work as truly as possible to your intended meaning in your native language. You should see a change in the flow and tone that matches your inner voice. I think that would help you a lot.
     
  7. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Write a basic sentence. Write several basic sentences. Write a few paragraphs, a few chapters, and finish a novel. Then you can go back and have fun with the words.

    Example: What is it they want? Surely there is a greater motive behind their menace behavior, or is keeping me up at night their solo objective. There must be more to it than that. Even as fictitious characters, existing only in my mind during moments of sheer exhaustion, there has to be reasoning. Nothing in nature exist for the mere sake of being annoying, although many people could argue on the contrary about a lot of species, such as skunks and mosquitoes, they still have a purpose.

    Elaborated into: What confines these insensible creatures to me? Surely their fundamental nature exceeds greatly beyond just menace behavior, or is withholding me nightly from my coveted sleep their solo objective? No, my nocturnal apprehension suggests to me otherwise. Even demonic fictitious characters, existing only in my uncanny mind during moments of sheer exhaustion must have some form of cohesive reasoning. Nothing in our planetary ecosystem exist for the mere sake of being annoying, although numerous people could argue on the contrary about several species, such as skunks and mosquitoes, they innately follow their biological impulses to survive.

    And I could get even fancier if I wanted. Point being, keep it basic, write the story, then go back and edit to a more ivy league level.
     
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  8. Ali
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    Ali Member

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    Dear MVD,
    I alsio had to learn to write in a foreign language and had the same concerns. My writing always ended up being shorter than native speakers and more simply expressed but was just as well received. My favourite author is Joseph Conrad. English was his third language! You can tell sometimes...only because he imports terms into the language and this can work too. Good luck
    Alex
     
  9. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Wait. What? I never knew this. Conrad has just increased his awesome factor.
     
  10. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    There is no quick way to boost your vocabulary. It comes down to reading books at a high level, and looking up words in the dictionary that you don't understand and adding them to your bank. Also, like a puzzle, don't try to force a word into place where it doesn't belong.

    There's nothing wrong with using a simplified writing style. I don't think a single word in the entire Harry Potter series goes over my head, yet a lot of people think those books are great.
     
  11. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    Learn to use the short Anglo Saxon words well first.

    They're the ones with punch.

    Keep the French words for when you've grown strong.

    (All the above and this is written in good old Anglo Saxon.)

    I'm half joking, but the point is that the anglo saxon part of English is often better understood by readers and is generally more effective in the writing of fiction. So you probably want to concentrate on that part of the language first, discovering the various nuances and colors of the individual words, rather than just piling a bunch of big-sounding words into your memory banks.
     
  12. Ali
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    Ali Member

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    I just watched a training video from the BBCs online college on style and it mentionned that part of the power of Winston Churchill's prose came from the fact that as a child he didn't get on well with Latin and Greek and his language used essentially many anglo-saxon single syllable words rather than the Latin based longer creations. Whether he did this knowingly I don't know. He is quoted as saying that put the right piece of music on and he could write something that would move a country. (I am paraphrasing hugely)
     
  13. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    As far as simplified writing goes, I suggest you read Raymond Carver. According to every Literature professor I've had, he is King of minimalism- proving you don't flowery prose to create effective and affecting literary works ;)
     
  14. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    Interesting! Which happens to be a latinate word for which there is no suitable substitute from the Anglo Saxon side...

    Those forbidding northern folk, so great for being grim!

    :)
     

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