Friday, January 12, 2018
Five Minute Friday: SIMPLIFY
Today I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word is SIMPLIFY.
In my job as a writing instructor, I often advise students to simplify their sentences.
Sometimes inexperienced writers think that they have to sound formal and sophisticated, so they write sentences like this:
The intimidation felt by the students results in a tendency toward expressing ideas in overly flowery prose.
So I ask them to look at the basic core of the sentence -- its subject and its verb -- and ask themselves, "Who is doing what in this sentence?"
In the sentence above, INTIMIDATION (the subject) RESULTS (the verb) in a tendency toward expressing. Uh ... that's kind of confusing and abstract. Have you ever seen intimidation result in a tendency toward expressing? Kind of hard to visualize, isn't it?
So I suggest that they rewrite the sentence by focusing on who is actually doing something in the sentence. The revision might look like this:
When students lack confidence, they often write in overly flowery prose.
Ah... that's better! Who's doing something? Students. And what are they doing? They're lacking confidence and writing in flowery prose. I can visualize that: an intimidated student sitting hesitantly at her desk, thesaurus at her side, trying to make her writing sound sophisticated.
The second sentence is simpler, clearer, and more direct. The reader doesn't have to wade through a lot of abstract words to find that core idea.
Maybe it might be a good idea, now and then, to step back and ask ourselves what our simplified sentences are. What are our core ideas: the things that, when we get rid of all the extraneous padding, remain true and fundamental to our lives? Here are just a few that come to mind immediately for me:
"God made me and loves me."
"I'm called to be a wife and a mom of two special-needs kids."
"God's mercies are new every morning."
Sounds pretty simple, but maybe it's enough to keep me going for a while.