Essay Writing: K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Silly)


Like many things in life, writing is best when it’s kept simple. Writing simplicity can be defined in many different ways, but two of the most effective decisions writers can make are in word choice and succinctness.

When writing, you may feel tempted to impress your reader by using large words. While having a broad vocabulary is great, use words that will have your reader scrambling for the dictionary sparingly. A professor once advised me that when choosing which word to use, you should only choose a larger, more complex word if it helps you cut down on word count. Otherwise, you should stick with the basics. However, you also want to keep your writing interesting, so imagine these big money words as a strong spice: too much and you’ll ruin the essay, too little and it may taste bland.

It also helps to say what you’re trying to say in the most succinct way possible. Make sure to use present tense with verbs, which gives your writing more directness and urgency than passive tense. Avoid clichés and idioms as much as possible, as it makes you seem lazy and can often be too general to really apply to your point. Direct language tells your reader exactly what you’re trying to say immediately.

Make your ideas smarter...not your words bigger! (Image Credit:http://janmarkley.blogspot.com/2011/04/deep-in-my-sasquatch-writing-cave.html)

If you can communicate a point in one sentence, why do it in five? If you’re struggling to reach a word count, focus more on the ideas that you’re presenting. Can you strengthen your argument by providing more examples? Deeper analysis? Don’t immediately start thinking of ways to inflate your word count through unnecessary lengthiness.

Keep in mind that writing is meant to be a form of communication. You want to communicate your message as clearly as possible, and that means keeping it simple, silly! Check out some of our other blogs for more writing tips, and the Purdue OWL provides many great resources to improve your writing.

What are some other tips you have for keeping writing simple?

 

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