Perhaps it’s possible to lose readers’ interest with writing that’s too complex or clever. An overabundance of highbrow vocabulary, technical terminology, or multi-syllabic words might put a halt to page turning. Perhaps we can elicit groans with superfluous punning. (And there it is.) It could be that excessive wordplay or use of figurative language might send readers’ minds awhirl and off-topic.
American humorist and poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971) said this more succinctly. (Nash wrote tons of poems, mostly comical. His books included Candy Is Dandy, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, I Wouldn't Have Missed It, Lineup for Yesterday, The Tale of Custard the Dragon, and Versus.
“Here’s a good rule of thumb: Too clever is dumb.”
The best writing can be creative and colorful and witty and wise, but it must also be understandable by its intended audience. Maybe that’s obvious, at least theoretically. In practice, however, things can look very different.
Ogden Nash had a way of stating rather obvious observations in witty ways. Here’s another example:
“People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.”
Uh-oh. Maybe we’ve been doing this whole writing thing wrong, after all. I think it’s time to look into one of those adjustable standing desks.
A to Z Blogging Challenge promo logo – fair use
Graphic adapted from public domain image