by Millie Ho
Note: This is a follow-up video/post to my post “To People Who Think I Use Big Words to Sound Smart”.
After reading “Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane, which was full of clear and powerful language, I realized that the right word is often the simpler word.
This is because the goal of communication is to make sure you are understood. It’s less about what you know and more about how you show what you know.
When given a choice, always choose the simpler word because:
- Simpler words are familiar, and therefore understood quickly.
- Simpler words are often more in context (vs. a more archaic or technical big word).
- Simpler words communicate complicated ideas better.
This goes back to the post about how my classmates said I was using big words to sound smart. After reading “Mystic River”, I’ve started thinking about things from my classmates’ point of view.
My classmates misunderstood me because I used big words purely to help myself learn, instead of trying to communicate well. Ultimately, it was my own damn fault that my classmates misunderstood me—I was not using the right words! I was using big words to improve my understanding, sure, but I didn’t consider whether those words were the right words to convey my ideas.
Now I know better. Now I’m choosing the right—and often simpler—words.
Guest post contributed by Millie Ho. Millie is a writer and illustrator from Toronto, Canada. She uses her blog and YouTube channel to document what she’s learned about writing from both the writing process and from books, TV shows, and films.