Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Write for Word Nerds

"Why don't you just use regular words? You know, like 'dumb down' the vocabulary a little?" I was asked recently. By regular, I assume that meant easier or more commonly used. So, what you're saying is that you want a novel spoon-fed to you with language you don't have think about. Dumb down? I won't disrespect my readers by assuming they can't understand what I've written. Where's the fun in that? I certainly understand the desire to write for an audience, but I like the idea of providing a little bit of a challenge. Reading should not only be an adventure story, but also a word journey. Sometimes a writer just has to choose the best word for the situation, and it might not be the more common one. As a teacher, I want to raise the bar, not lower it.

When I was writing Task Force: Gaea, I decided that I wanted to write for readers who were like me: those lovers of language who don't mind taking the moment to grab a dictionary or fire up Google—basically, logophiles or word nerds.

In my mind, I see my audience as around 17+ (although younger readers can certainly understand the novels), those who have a more developed vocabulary or a willingness to learn. Reading for pleasure shouldn't mean divorcing yourself from self-improvement through language. 

Does that mean I'll have fewer readers of my novels? Probably.

Having been a bibliophile all my life, I've read my share of novels from Hardy Boys' mysteries to Les Miserables, and when I read the latter, if I came across a word I just didn't know, I simply looked it up. It's comforting to know that authors choose words that force me to think a bit. I don't mind learning. I realize, though, that not all people enjoy having to go get a dictionary or fire up Google. If that's the case, then you probably won't enjoy my books. Over the years, I've developed what I consider to be a pretty good vocabulary, and I enjoy using it. 

I revel in the power of words.

I strive to write quality stories with intrigue, complexity, and story lines to keep my readers interested all the way through the novel, questioning as they go. I write books the way I want to read them, and I don't believe in writing to a market just to sell books.

The moment a writer assumes his or her audience cannot understand the complexity of language or story, the writer has lost so much more. 

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