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STEPHEN KING ON AVOIDING PRETENSION

Stephen King. Photo:: Pinguino K

Stephen King. Photo:: Pinguino K

King Advises Writers Not To Be Pretentious

Many beginning writers reach for the biggest, most sophisticated words they can think of when they are telling a tale. They seem to think an elevated vocabulary makes them appear worldly and professional. However, not only is the needless use of big words a sign of insecurity in a writer, but a story told in pithier, earthier, Anglo-Saxon-based language usually is much more powerful and emotionally resonant than one constructed from more elaborate words that have their roots in Latin.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using Latin-based words when it seems appropriate; you should just avoid employing them when the only reason is to make your story sound more “intellectual.”

Stephen King, in his craft book, On Writing, adds that pretentiousness can also take the form of pointless symbolism in a story. King says that while symbolism can deepen and enrich a story, the symbols must fit into the tale organically rather than ornamentally. A story cluttered with symbolism is yet another sign of a writer trying far to hard to impress his or her audience.

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