Creative Writing Advice #10: Use Believable Language


by Julian_Finn

Never use language in your prose that's noticeably more complex than your characters.

As writers struggle to find their voices and develop definitive styles, it's tempting to use "impressive" vocabulary -- sort of a textual scream that says, "See!  See!  I English good!"

Instead of focusing on showing off your language chops, it's usually a good idea to use language that syncs with your characters.  If you're writing about gruff, gritty, morally complex characters, make your prose gruff, gritty, and sharp.  Alternatively, if you're writing about pretentious, snobbish characters, it makes more sense to be more stylish and haughty with your language.

This rule is especially true if you're writing in the first person.  It makes no sense for your rude, uneducated doormat protagonist to use five syllable words to describe a tree.

About the Author

Julian_Finn is a Canadian writer and corporate sales professional.  He is currently working on revising the first draft of his novel, There but for Luck.

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