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What's wrong with easy reading?

Sometimes I wonder if we, as professional writers, make things way more difficult than they need to be. Sure, the creative process can be trying. It can test our mettle and drain our minds.

But how complex does good writing really need to be?

Wallace Stegner won the Pulitzer Prize for Angle of Repose.
Big, fancy words and high-falootin’ phrasings don’t always mark the best writing. Often, it seems simpler expressions fit the bill exactly, so long as content rings true.

How often is the right word a common one?

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying things a bit. OK, I admit it. At the same time, I wonder if real writers aren’t bold enough to aim for laymen’s terms, helping readers understand the intentions behind expression.

Back in the Medieval Era, when I was in college, a literature professor suggested that lazy writers may intentionally obscure meanings to hide shoddy research or a lack of understanding of the topic at hand. (Does this ring any bells? Is anyone recalling that dreaded sense of having to fill an entire composition notebook in a test hall of a university academic building?)

Creative writing may employ more complex sentence structures and esoteric synonyms. Rhythm, meter, variety and aesthetics count for plenty. Twist my arm, and I might even admit to a secret penchant for iambic pentameter.

But for web writing and popular-level publications, straightforward stuff seems to fit the bill.

Maybe American historian and novelist Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was onto something, when he said this:

Hey, the guy won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972, along with many other highly respected awards.

Who says all our prose must be Faulknerian? Maybe easy reading deserves a bit more respect. 

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