Welcome to AT HOME WITH HARRIET! Each month, our dear, sweet Harriet Hodgson, will share her life with us. She will share writing tips, articles based on 44 years as a freelancer, and articles about current events and issues. You don’t want to miss one episode of AT HOME WITH HARRIET! Because as you can see from the photo below, Harriet always has a lot going on!
WHY I LOVE SMALL WORDS!
I have a broad vocabulary.
Give me a few seconds and I come up with medical words, technical words, cooking words, teaching words, writing words, workshop words, leadership words, sailing words, and even a few French words. Whew!
These words are stored in a “room” my mind, a crowded place because I’m always adding new words. Words fascinate me and you could say I’m a small word junkie. Why do I love small words? Why should you love them?
Small words are easy to read. The meaning of small words is usually clear. As a nonfiction writer, I’m always doing research. When I come across small words I cheer. These words make skim reading and speed reading easier. That saves me time and I return to writing.
Small words are easy to understand. The reader, or writer, for that matter, doesn’t need to worry about definitions. There’s no angst, there’s no wasted time, there’s no regret. Small words can be “grabbers,” something that’s good for readers and writers alike.
Small words aid sentence flow. Long words—ones that are hard to pronounce and understand—make readers stop reading. In short, you’ve lost them. After I finish a page or paragraph, I read my copy aloud. How does it sound? Is my writing clear? Whenever I can, I replace big words with small ones.
Small words help you see the page. Just because I think I’m done with a project doesn’t make it true. After I’ve finished an article, I look for small words. This article is an example. I’ve used small words to explain points and used a bold font.
Small words make sharing info easier. I know, after 44 years as a freelancer, I’m able to describe big things with small words; I distill information. Every one of my nonfiction books has a long resource list. This list, along with good reviews, proves my statement.
Small words are powerful. In fact, they can be more powerful than big ones. I have favorite small words, words like feel, love, hope, know, dear, and true. When you think about it, each word is worthy of a book. You may have favorite small words, ones you use again and again.
By now, you may be wondering how I go about choosing small words. Well, I make a list of pros and cons. While this is an old idea, it’s a good one, and I think comparison lists will be forever new. English is a rich, welcoming language, one that’s always in flux with the invention of new words.
Novelist Ernest Hemingway, the author of The Old Man and the Sea, was a master of small words. The title of his book is as simple as it gets. American poet Robert Frost was also a master and used small words in “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” If small words were good enough for them, they’re good enough for us.
The challenge for RRBC and RWISA members: Use small words!
~Author, Harriet Hodgson