There’s No Need to be Fancy

via en.wikipedia.org (1950 comedy_

via en.wikipedia.org (1950 comedy)

My brother uses fancy words. He’s a creative writer and, I think, an aspiring marketing/communications expert. I’m not sure exactly where he stands on his future career, but I’m more than certain he uses words that I don’t know.

And by don’t know, I mean that I have to look them up and find synonyms just to figure out what they mean. Now, I’m going to be the first person to say that I’m not a writer. I’m a journalist. I string words together, one after the other, to make stories. It’s nothing special. And it shouldn’t be.

With the writing I’m doing, I cannot add big, fancy words.

For one, you don’t want to confuse the reader or make them have to look anything up. It’s like reading a Stephen King book. With every other page I have to look up a word because I’m not sure what it is.

I try to be as unfancy as possible. I don’t want to confuse anyone or frustrate them with my writing. I want them to get the news and understand it in one quick read.

I lean to the news side of things and that’s probably a big reason as to why my leads are so “bland” from time to time. I want to just get to the facts and quotes and not get too wordy with things.

It all started in college, when teachers would lecture us on being fancy. I took it to heart and I molded my writing after it. I’ve kept it up since I started at the Chronicle.

My editors may not like that when I’m writing features, but I think they notice it in my news stories. I make that effort to be as plain as I can so I don’t blow an issue out of proportion. It’s something I pride myself on.

I really think people can tell when a story is “dressed up” to seem bigger or more important than it actually is. I respect our readers and I make sure I spare them from that.

It’s the least I can do.

Jonathan

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