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!

At Home With Harriet! (3)



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!

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~Author, Harriet Hodgson


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  1. Great article, Harriet! Your page was certainly easy to see and you made your points with clarity. I agree that a story flows best when written in simple language, but an occasional larger word encourages a stretch in the reader’s vocabulary. The key is to keep the story moving in the best possible way for the reader. Thanks for this reminder!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Harriet! I fully agree. I’ve been turned off many times when reading a book filled with what I call fifty cent words. I assume the author tries to impress his readers to make them think he’s smarter than he really is. I also don’t have a clue what many of them mean and have to look them up in a dictionary. By the time I return to reading, I have to race to get back in step with the story. Then, after so many searches, I tire of the requirement and look for another book to read. Small words are all-knowing, easy to read, don’t require explanation or research, and don’t challenge the intelligence of the author. A no-brainer! Great story, again!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good advice Harriet! I also agree with Pat – a well-placed complex word can do wonders and shines if most of the text is clear and concise. A piece full of long, unusual words taxes the reader and could cause them to tire of your work. Also, seems like trying too hard!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good Morning, Lady Harriet,
    Another good tip, although I have to admit that sometimes a little bug bites me that makes me want to increase the reading level of people by using a big word. 🙂
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your advice is spot on. I don’t think many readers think of you as crying over rejection because you are so prolific as an author. To me, you are a cheerful pursuer of the positive. Brava, Harriet! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Harriet, for your great advice about writing. Perseverance is a must, but as output is only as good as your input, reading and learning are also vital. You had me laughing along with that advertising rep! Life without humor would be dull, indeed. And your paragraphs about behaving professionally and with kindness had me evaluating my own responses to people. You’re good for all of us, Harriet! Blessings!


  7. Harriet, this is great. I loved the humor comment. I am revising something right now and it’s like shoveling snow with a teaspoon on some days. You made me laugh out loud as I was trying to picture you sining the National Anthem and promising to cut down on toilet paper use! Thanks so much for these helpful hints. As my children would say–YOU ROCK!!!


  8. Hi Harriet–Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom about being a writer. One of the most important qualities of a writer is perseverance to keep writing and try to improve along the way.


  9. Harriet, this is a wonderful post, chock full of good advice. Your comment about perseverance especially resonated with me. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t see your project through to the end, no one will know. Thanks for another terrific article!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good Morning, Lady Harriet,
    Thank you. You always write something that encourages me to get up and keep going.
    Thank you for your honesty and openness.
    Take care.
    Shalom aleichem,

    Liked by 1 person

  11. One of the skills I teach my students is to repeat back what they heard from their partner. This allows the speaker to (1) understand they were truly listened to and (2) clarify any misunderstandings. This also prevents the listener from thinking about what to say next since they have to repeat what they are hearing. It’s a great way to build active listening skills. Great post, Harriet! 🙂


    • Thanks for your comment Marian. Though I’m not sure if I’m “da bomb” I’m thrilled you think so.


  12. Thank you, Harriet! I have hearing loss in both ears and am blamed for having selective hearing when I may hear the sound but don’t understand the spoken word due to background noise, etc. If I turn up the volume, there is much more static and background noise which makes it much more difficult. Too many times, I hear my wife say, “Never mind, I’ll tell you in the car.” And then in the car, she either forgot to mention it or had forgotten her POV when asked. I do hear and understand more when looking directly into the eyes of the speaker when listening and find it more difficult when on the side trying to listen to another conversation. Unfortunately, things will never improve for me with the current technology and I do try as much as I am able to listen effectively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m late in responding to your comment, but glad you did. We’re in the same boat. I wear two high-tech hearing aids and fear I’m going to hear someone say, “That Harriet Hodgson is a ditz.”

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this POV and could not agree more. I appreciate eye contact and always have in my personal and professional interactions. Thank you for this and I love the sign.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi, Lady Harriet,
    This article needs to be in every newspaper in the world. Maybe, the chaos and turbulence that we experience would disappear because people would be actually listening to one another.
    Shalom aleichem


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