“Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.”

C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children.

C.S. Lewis offers several writing tips in a letter he wrote to a child.

This particular tip has to do with word choice. The plain direct word is better than the long, vague one.

This is hard to do–especially if you’ve been through an educational program in a specialized field with its own advanced vocabulary. You will actually have to slow down, and translate your thoughts back into plain direct words.

You’ll probably need a thesaurus too. Pay special attention to your verbs.

You’ll still be able to communicate deep ideas. You don’t need big words for deep thoughts. In fact, a lot of foolishness may be hiding behind sophisticated language. And a lot of wisdom carried in direct, plain sentences. My Church History professor used to illustrate this: He’d admiringly quote, “‘God is light’–and then exclaim, “That’s a fine sentence!” Direct, plain–and extremely profound.

Your ideas will be more accessible to a wider audience–from children to PhDs.

Delight them all.

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