Are You A Pretentious Writer?

tmp716003483278376960Is your writing pretentious? Do you write to impress others, or is your writing real? I’ve written several blogs on pretentious writing, but I’ve never used those words to describe it.

So what is pretentious writing? It’s writing that uses those million dollar words. You know, the ones that leave the rest of us scratching our heads and wondering what we just read.

Pretentious writing is something you probably learned in college or high school. It may work great in technical or scientific magazines, and would probably fly in government documents or procedural manuals, but please don’t try to pass it on in a fictional novel. ย Your attempts to make yourself sound sophisticated will actually backfire and make you appear unsophisticated.

Think of the novels you read. Do they use a lot of flowery prose and million dollar words? The answer is probably no. What the author has done is mastered eloquence. He/she can make even the most simple sentence waltz across the page. Something I’m still working on ๐Ÿ™‚

One of my favorite blogs from the past year is Grammar Is A Must-But Lose That English Teacher Writing! If you have the time, I would encourage you to go back and read it. My posts are short, so it won’t take but a few minutes.

I’m not anti-Thesaurus by the way. I think the Thesaurus is a great writing tool. I open it when I find myself using the same word over and over, or when I’m looking for a word that’s a better fit for what I’m trying to say. I don’t use it to sprinkle million dollar words throughout my prose when simple ones will do.

Well I think I’ve beaten this subject to death, and have no doubt you understand what the point of this blog is.

Hope it got you thinking.

-Jan R



Are You A Pretentious Writer?

12 thoughts on “Are You A Pretentious Writer?

  1. One reader’s “million-dollar word” is another’s everyday speaking vocabulary, y’know? I think a difference between pretentious writing and writing that’s real, as you say, is that pretentious writing tends to use words in a way that doesn’t fit the intended meaning, because those words don’t come naturally to the writer. This is also how to identify “thesaurus snot,” words that look as if the writer’s pet thesaurus sneezed all over the page. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a thesaurus to jar one’s memory, and it’s even useful for finding new words as long as a dictionary is consulted, too, to make sure the meaning of the synonym matches the writer’s intentions, but “steed” and “palfrey” don’t mean the same thing just because they can both be found under synonyms for “horse”… If those words came naturally to the writer, such a mix-up wouldn’t happen.

    (I am certain there are people who consider words such as “pretentious” and “eloquence” to be fancy words, because they don’t use those words themselves. On the other hand, it is quite reasonably assumed that anyone reading this blog post — people who write fiction, want to learn how to write fiction, or are just fascinated by how fiction writing happens — won’t consider those words overblown because they do come naturally to the blogger and to the intended audience.)

    Liked by 2 people

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