“We’re always weighing our words and trying to choose the best one”. How True. One of the trials and tribulations the writer experiences are about the right words to use. The weight of words can be hard to wrestle with. In the modern world with all the tools available there are dozens of tools telling us the ways we should or should not say things. All a part of the weight of words.
How heavy are words? The weight of words does matter, especially given the choices available in the English language.
More than a million words exist in the English language. One of the greatest pleasures I have in life is discovering words. Ever since childhood I have had a constant companion wherever I have been, a dictionary. I love opening it at a page at random, selecting a word at random. Whether the word is one I am familiar with or new I read and re-read the definition to aid understanding.
Opening the dictionary, randomly, I find:
Downdraught ~ Noun ~ A downward current or draught of air.
I knew that, but it is good to refresh the memory. Flip on a few more pages. Another:
Latifundium ~ Noun ~ Plural is latifundia ~ A large landed estate in ancient Rome, typically worked by slaves. More recently used to relate to similar estates in Spain or Latin America. Origin Latin, partially via Spanish.
Ah! Immediately. There it is, a word the spell checker is unfamiliar with. The familiar red squiggle appears under the word. It is spelt correctly.
Weight of Words
Do you have a complex about long or unusual words? Trouble is there has been so much noise intimating that the use of long words is inconsistent with plain English. I love words, so that would make me a logophile. There we go introducing another uncommon word into the conversation. Yet I also see no reason why a writer, whatever their genre, shouldn’t help to expand the vocabulary of their reader.
Because I love words I believe that we should use them, but do so in a way that enhances the knowledge of our audience. When you encounter a word you don’t understand then look it up, understand it, know how to use it, then use it in a sentence (in your mind). Just because a famous author used a word doesn’t mean that usage was correct. Today with Google at hand it is easy to look it up.
As long as uncommon words are introduced in context then they should not phase the reader.
Dare you Use them?
To my mind, the point of having words is to use them. I am never likely to construct a sentence where I will be able to use the word latifundium properly in context. It may help me answer a Jeopardy clue or pub quiz, that may be all. The dictionary is full of words that have everyday uses, from simple to complex, but dare you use them? That is a part of the challenge of writing, assessing the weight of words and using them appropriately.
Most writing advice tells people to keep their writing simple. There seems a current requirement to dumb-down everything. “Is your writing suitable for an 11-year-old to read and understand?” is a question I have seen frequently asked. The simple answer. No, we are all adults here — many having degrees, post graduate awards and specialist knowledge built over years in our respective careers.
If you are writing for children then age appropriate writing certainly applies. There are many questions a blogger will write about that an 11 year old will never read. Why be limited by the language of an 11 year old? I am not saying that writing should be full of jargon and incomprehensible words. There is always a compromise to be made in the name of clarity. Writers should always seek to clarify and explain.
Be Clear to Your Audience
Clarity is one of the first challenges any writer faces. Of all the writing advice that is available this is a constant. It is about using the right word for the right job in all instances. In part the deliberate selection of words are being wrested from the writer’s hands, by modern demands to keep the language simple.
An 11 year old will not be reading that business report so it is permissible to use more complex words. Words like bespoke, enhance, and glitch are acceptable for everyday use. Other words like ‘codicil,’ ‘arbitrage,’ or ‘imputed interest’ are more technical in nature and need to be explained when used.
Who is your audience? If everyone reading a document is a specialist then technical terms of the profession may be used. If you are writing a blog (even one for a specialist audience) you can be sure that lay-people will at some time encounter it. Do you accommodate them? That is something you will have to decide. Whether or not you decide to use technical language your writing should otherwise be clear and comprehensible.
The weight of words wrest heavily on the writer’s shoulders. They are under so much pressure to select the right ones. Be clear, concise, and at the right level so every reader can understand and learn.
One of the best tactics for the blogger is to make their work conversational, a little personal. In that respect it becomes one professional speaking to another, knowledge sharing. Just like, the blogger and their reader in a small meeting talking together.
Obviously this isn’t the case, the reality is the writer is doing all the talking. They anticipate the questions the reader may ask, and provide the answers, just as the reader is forming the question in their mind. It is for this reason good blog posts personalise the knowledge. “You may think…” and “I have found…” are the types of phrases found in blog content. This is the use of conversational voice.
Value of Learning
The key aspect of all blogs is that they are a learning device, they facilitate knowledge transfer.
The theme of this blog “helping people how to turn their Blog into a powerful resource”. I do this by helping them communicate more effectively, using the power of the written and spoken word. I also discuss social media, because of how it can help bloggers and small business grow.
My intent is leaning on a decade of on-line writing and editing experience to help people empower their communications skills. I have been creating and editing web content for a variety of clients in diverse industries, helping them improve their SEO, ensuring the marketing message they provide is both powerful and consistent.
Blogging about blogging, or meta-blogging, is something I found my groove in because people kept asking me for tips on how they may improve their writing or for ways to improve their blog. As long as this site continues the focus will remain on learning.
Any serious writer will, at some point, ask the question how can they improve the readability of their work? To understand this there seem to be a large number of variables at work, including:
- Sentence length
- Excessive detail
- Passive voice
- Use of complex words
- Status enhancement
- Prolonging words
- Lacking detail
- Dependent clauses
If you follow all the advice on use of the English language you will be writing short sentences, constructed of easily understood words. The problem with only using short sentences is that the work has a tendency to become very staccato, full of short, sharp, sentences, punctuated only by the full stop.
There is nothing wrong with long sentences or complex words, but writing is best understood when elements are mixed together. Complex words and long sentences are as essential as short ones.
A place exists for abstractions, they enable stories to be more imaginative, paint a picture. They may have a place in fictional stories. The problem, most writers use this device to show how clever they are. Abstractions may prove necessary, for painting the majestic sunset over the Tuscan hills, but become too pompous for a business report.
Yet factual writing also needs to be creative. Have you ever been in a business meeting where everyone is hiding the fact that they are bored with the proceedings? The reason, the report being discussed has been written without any creativity. I agree, with some subjects it is difficult to write creatively about cold hard facts. The problem with business reports is that they often report the same information (with minor tweaks) month after month. Hence the boredom.
Such writers need to be imaginative and selective concerning the content of their reports. Find a fact that matters to the business and highlight it. Discuss that, not mundane, routine, information.
The main focus of this material is looking at the challenges of writing for a blog. While blogs can be used as a part of marketing activities they are primarily used to inform readers. Yet part of the goal of the blog writer is to create persuasive material. Remember most of your readers are busy people and your work needs to:
- Be specific.
- Focus on the reader.
- Make readers feel something.
Mix it up!
How does this impact the weight of words used? One of the challenges of writing is varying the tone and pace. The weight of words matter. Use both long and short sentences, often to counterbalance one another. Simple and complex words can provide contrast within a sentence.
Indeed mixing up the types of words used in sentences is necessary to make your points stand out. For example use of ‘the’. Sentences that use ‘the’ multiple times are not uncommon. Yet there are many words which can be used in its place, such as your, our, my, when possession is being recognised. Every, all, each, are also valid alternatives, which ensures the sentences are mixed and not repetitive. It is true that we repeat many words in sentences and paragraphs when there are alternatives we should use.
The other aspect of word choice is that situations may demand a specific use. Use the appropriate word.
Other Related Material
The weight of words to use can be a heavy burden for the writer. The words we select and how we write are important aspects that every blog writer must consider, These works also provide further information:
- The Sentence — Simple and Clutter Free?
- The Joy of Sentences — Construction
- When do I have time to Edit my Blog Post?
- Helping People turn their #Blog into a Powerful Resource
- Writing: Largely About having the Confidence to Do It!
If you like this article, we would appreciate it if you make a donation to GobbledeGoox . What are your thoughts about selecting the words you use when writing your blog? Something to contribute? Please leave a comment. The images here were sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay, Unsplash or other sites.