Jan 17, 2018

How to use complex words to make your readers feel smart

Complex and obscure words are a great way to add punch and a deep sense of truth and meaning to your writing. However, it is a double-edged sword as if the word you choose is too complex or too obscure, it will derail the flow of your writing and will confuse your readers. This creates a catch-22, If the more obscure and byzantine the word, the heavier its weight and impact you have in your writing, but also the more likely it is that your reader won’t understand what you are saying, how can we add these complex words in at all?

The trick is to preface your complex word with it’s meaning earlier in the sentence. For example:

“Typical George, he snaffled 20$ from me again!”

Here the word snaffle has no context for you to guess any meaning from. To a reader if they are not 100% sure on the definition of it, then there is no way they will understand this sentence. If we add a little more, it becomes much clearer.

“Typical George, always stealing my money, just the other day he snaffled $20 from me again!”

From this most readers will be able to guess that the meaning of the word ‘snaffle’ is to steal. By adding in a little extra context and information to the sentence, we have prefaced the complex word with its own meaning, subliminally teaching readers the word before they have even come across it.

Writing like this shouldn’t just be used when you are trying to include complicated words. Teaching yourself to preface ideas and thoughts with structure that is designed to help prepare the mind for what it is about to read next will naturally help your writing to flow better. These additions will help to build layers of meaning that will convey your writings purpose in a strong and clear fashion.

Happy writing!