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  • John Knight

KISS. Keeping It Simply Straightforward. Style is a matter of common sense.


Aristotle wasn't being a snob when he wrote this quote. He was making the point that for everyone to understand what he was writing it needed to be written in an easy and understandable way. After all writing is a means of communication. Clear communication makes the idea understandable for everyone irrespective of their degree of education or lack of it.

Aristotle died aged 64 in 323 BCE or more than two thousand years ago. Yet he had a surprising grasp of what any writer should aim for. Many of our best writers have taken his words to heart often with their own version. Hemingway was briefer, "Write as Straight as You Can." I must say I do like this quote by Stephen Kng that gets own to the nuts and bolts of KISS.

"One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

From On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I detest florid writing. More than anything I detest florid description. Description should be short, straightforward, simple and serve a purpose to further the storyline. It needs to be sufficient in itself to provide a time and a place for the reader's orientation. and imagination More than this and your story ends up like King's metaphorical pet: a humiliating personal embarrassment.


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