In the words of the great Jedi Master Yoda, “make one smart, using big words does not.”
OK, maybe he never actually said that, but if he had been a high school English teacher, I like to think he might have.
The point I’m trying to make is that simply using a big word in your writing (or in conversation for that matter) doesn't make you the smartest person in the room. Oftentimes when people use big words with many syllables, it has the opposite effect from what was intended. Big words used unnecessarily can clog up the conversation and interrupt the flow ending up with the key thoughts being lost.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for big words but you must make absolutely certain that it is needed. Unless you’re being graded on the size and complexity of your words, keep it simple to make sure you get your point across.
Perhaps Yoda would complete the thought with this…”Make one smart, using big words does not. When used correctly, powerful any word can become.”
As a writer, I compose short stories as well as poetry. One question that has come up in conversations about writing poetry is how it should be edited.
My personal feeling is that poetry should come from the heart. This being said, the best poems are those that run in some form a stream of consciousness. There can be sentences of sorts, even if they cross line breaks, but the thoughts simply flow from the poet. If authors start to tinker too much with their poems and make them “just right” in their own mind, the spontaneity of the poem begins to be lost.
Now, does this mean that you shouldn't edit your poems at all? Absolutely not!
I urge you to read through your poems just like any other piece of writing. Print out a copy so that you can see it printed on a page and above all, read it out loud. Poetry and song have long been intertwined, so hearing how the words sound against one another can be a powerful tool for a poet trying to figure out if a poem it “done.” (If you have ever read Dr. Suess out loud you know exactly what I mean)
One last note about poetry that I’m sure everyone has heard but not every quite agrees with. It doesn't have to rhyme to be poetry. Just because Shakespeare, Coleridge, and Poe all did it, doesn't mean you have to. Use your own style and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Photo Credit: Ruben G.S. via sxc.hu
One of the most overlooked things in the world is saying “Thank you.” It seems so simple, yet people don’t do it often enough.
When you’re done with your interview, handwrite the interviewer(s) a short thank you note, and make sure it IS handwritten. Keep it brief (2-3 sentences) and simply thank them for the chance to meet them and let them know that you hope to hear from them again soon. Send it in the mail a day or two after your initial interview. Once they receive it, they will be forced to revisit your information and think back to your interview. If you and another candidate are both on the verge of being selected, this simple action could be the thing that tips the scales in your favor.
Photo Credit: Asif Akbar via sxc.hu
One of the most common grammatical mistakes I see people make it misusing “its,” “it’s,” and “its’.” I can understand the confusion and honestly it is sometimes hard to determine which one is correct so I hope this brief overview can help clear up the confusion.
Photo Credit: Maxime Perron Caissy via sxc.hu
Everyone wants to sound smart. Being smart can help you get ahead in the world but being smart and using big words do not necessarily go together.
Take a look at the previous short paragraph. The longest word was “necessarily” and I would argue that nothing in those two sentences was very fancy. You can find all of those words in normal conversation. Using common words makes the reading easy to understand and quickly gets the point across.
Let me try to re-write that first paragraph in a way that tries to “sound smart”:
We have all heard the saying “addition by subtraction.” I propose a new saying here; “addition by simplification.” Complication is sometimes just that and ends up confusing the reader. Remember this simple rule: “If I need a thesaurus to find the right word, chances are the reader will need a dictionary to figure out my meaning.”
Photo Credit: Alfonso Diaz via sxc.hu
Everyone has a story to tell. I’m sure something has happened in your life in the past year that you could write a story about. It doesn’t have to be as long and involved as Tolstoy, elegant as Shakespeare or even as funny as Vonnegut (yes, I know some people don’t “get” Vonnegut’s humor). But there is a story in there that needs to be told.
I hear you asking the question. “How can I write a story? I’m a terrible writer.” That’s where I come in. Don’t let your (perceived) lack of writing skills deter you from telling the story that you need to tell. Just get out a piece of paper or your favorite word processing program and start writing. Tell your story out loud if you have to and write down the story as you tell it. Don’t worry about it making sense right now, just get the basics down. Once you’re done with that, give me a call and let’s talk about polishing up your story and getting it ready for prime time.
Jonathan Ytreberg is the owner of Best Word Forward, committed to providing the best resume advice and services to clients around the globe.