I am a journalist and an author. That means I have a good command of the english language—or SHOULD have. I recently read 100 Words Every Expert Author Should Know and now I am wondering how much of an expert I really am.
No where in the article does it explain what being an “expert author” means but I am assuming it means being able to express yourself through your writing with all the words your readers will be able to identify—words like “amalgamate” “obfuscate” and “belie.” Yes, these are just a sample of the 100 words I should know and understand.
To better illustrate my “expert author” knowledge, allow me to share a brief synopsis of a future book. Haven’t come up with a title yet, but I’m sure it’ll come to me:
Although Sally refused to articulate her emotions, I could tell something wasn’t right by her supericilious look. She was unable to handle the situation with courtesy and aplomb. Perhaps she was trying to obfuscate everyone in the room who all thought her behavior was asinine.
Suddenly Sally accused Jake, in the group, of having a vacuous mind.
Jake yelled back, “Let go of your hubris a second and think about what you’re saying!”
Silence deafened the room as everyone tried to figure out how they could amalgamate in harmony for the remainder of the couples retreat.
OK—so what do you think? Does my use of these $10 words impress you? Are you more inclined to read a book that uses these types of words?
One more thing: How many of these words do YOU actually know without having to look them up?
The purpose of writing is to communicate with an audience. If your audience expects you to use those words, then by all means, do so. But if your audience has never heard of them, your writing will not impress them. As a matter of fact, they won’t read much past the first $10 word before they move on to something more interesting.
My advice: Use the words that will best convey your message to your readers.
Yep Michelle! That’s it: “Use the words that will best convey your message to your readers.” Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Hi Beverly: while I see your point about using words appropriately (not to impress, but to express), I do see value in having as broad a vocabulary as possible. The more tools in the toolbox, the better we writers, editors, and speakers can wield those power toolwords when we need them. To answer your question, I have enough hubris to admit that I knew all the words you listed. My mom used to make my siblings and me look up words in the ever open dictionary. Words are fun!
I do agree with you in the fact that we should have a broad vocabulary. That’s why it’s so important to know your audience so you can determine the price tag you want to place on your words. As a speaker, I sometimes get a kick out of using the “big words” to see the looks on some of the faces who may have thought I had NO CLUE. Thanks for commenting.
I am sitting here smiling at your wonderful humor! As a long time nerdy wordsmith, I remembered all the times as a kid I would pick a word and then use it a ka-zillion times in as many ways as possible for a week or so. My Mom hated this little game! “Aplomb” was one of those words that sent me on one of those overly abusive assaults – another reason for my smile! I love words, but “appropriate” use is the important thing! I agree with the comment above – use words to express, not impress! Thanks for sharing this Bev!
I wouldn’t call myself a “nerdy wordsmith 🙂 but I do know remember when I came across a word as a child, I would always look it up so I could understand its meaning as it related to what I was reading. I experienced that recently when I came across the word “vicissitudes” in a book I was reading. I had to look up the word because I couldn’t make it out from the sentence. I have expanded my vocabulary greatly over the past 30-40 years. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Thanks for keeping it real Bev. Great points from everyone – your audience is key. With the current trend of “social speak”, less can be more.