Writing Tip: Expand your Vocabulary … but don’t Overuse Long or Obscure Words

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Photo Credit: Donna J. Sanders

Do you sometimes find yourself looking back at what you’ve written only to discover that you’ve repeated the same word or phrase in your sentence or paragraph? It can be hard to find an appropriate replacement word on these occasions. As writers, we all have words that we avoid using for fear of overuse. We would be wise to locate words with similar meanings to add to our vocabulary, as repetitive writing can cause us to lose the interest of our readers.

Yet this should be done with caution. I have several friends whose writing too often demonstrates how academically minded they are by making their reader feel stupid. Every other sentence will contain a word that I’ll have to look up in a dictionary and I often feel distracted from the original purpose of the piece (which is to be read). Their writing style confuses the reader. Nothing flows. The meaning is forgotten. Too many long or uncommon words can be just as bad as repeating words again and again.

Let’s look at an example using the first paragraph:
Do you intermittently discern yourself scrutinizing what you’ve authored to ascertain that you’ve replicated the same word or parlance in your clause or passage? It can be vexing to provide a felicitous surrogate word during these occurrences. As writers, we aggregate words that we obviate for presentiment of overuse…

Okay, I’m being silly now, but I think you get the picture.
It’s important to find some middle ground between plain and complicated language. If you’re using some common words too often, think carefully about the word you need to replace and whether your new word is suitable there. Discovering new words and using them appropriately can improve the standard of our writing, but it can also send out the wrong message.

Written By: Laura Marie Clark

Laura Clark Picture

About the Author

Laura is a 23 year old English woman with a history degree residing in the UK. She has been writing for many years and enjoys writing horror/fantasy stories, as well as poetry. You can view  more of her work at: https://inspiredstoriesandpoems.wordpress.com/

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Contributing Authors: Donna J. Sanders, Author of Ataraxia, Cardboard Signs, Devour Me, and Charcoal Kisses Jody Austin, Author of This Is My Pen, Volume 1 Laura Marie Clark, Author of City of The World Raja Williams, Author of The Journey Along The Way & Imprints In The Sand.

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4 replies

  1. Thank you for the tip. As an English learner, I really need it. 😊

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