It has recently come to my attention that not all readers like it when a book challenges them to learn new words.
As a dedicated lover of words and one who finds it amusing to use confoundedly obscure words whenever possible, I found this shocking, disconcerting, and disheartening. But it also made me think about why writers write – and I decided on two main reasons.
- Writers write to get out what is inside of themselves. They have a need to share, to expound, to express.
- Writers write because readers have a need to hear a message, a story, hard data.
So you must ask yourself, whose need am I satisfying?
If your goal is to satisfy your craving for word creation, then let us celebrate with the use of multisyllabic words and arcane references! Challenge your readers to dig out their dictionaries or dust off their encyclopedias. But if you are trying to reach the widest audience possible, then I suppose we have an obligation to write in a way that encourages our readers to engage in what we're saying. If we spend to much time amused with ourselves, then we are not serving their needs.
Now, I'm not advocating dumbing down what you have to say – NO NO NO! But I am reminding you (and me) that not everyone wants to read with pen and dictionary in hand every time they look at words. Sad as that may be to me.