naïve and simple

Thinking is required.

StoryKettle » Notes » naïve and simple

Copyright © 2007, Michael M Wayman

I name my style of writing naïve and simple. The former is simple, just look up the word naïve in a dictionary or Google. The latter is not so simple.

For the reader simple writing is easy to read, with short sentences and a small vocabulary.

Simple writing is not easier to write; picking a word that precisely defines what is required is usually not possible. Such words are too special. No, the meaning must be made clear by a collection of simple words. It is more of a challenge to make meaning using only simple words, albeit with many simple words. Thinking is required, just pulling a word out of one's memory is too easy, words such as vocabulary, restricted, sophisticated, pedagogic, intention and of course naïve should not be used.

Short sentences are easier to read; on the scale Ernest Hemingway to Thomas Mann what I call writing is off the Hemingway end of the scale.

The small number of words that I use is not Global English nor any other restricted list of English words, it is not all the words in the smallest dictionary that you can find. I just want to get the most out of the words I use. I try not to use words such as: very, just, so, quite, rather. Sometimes a whole sentence is needed, instead of one sophisticated word.

When I first began to write I told a friend of mine that most of the stories would be in English. She said that it was a pity because her English was not so good. This has given me another reason to write simply, to help people whose English is weak. Not that I write for learners of any language, no pedagogic intent here; and beginners will need a dictionary now and again.

I write some stories in German because I want to, it allows me to express myself in a different way, although it takes three times longer to write. They are written in German, there are no “English originals”. I have no intention to translate any story; for me, translating is hard and unrewarding work, my time is better spent writing new stories.

I write about the half per cent, the people you do not know, those people who you think are odd and who do odd things. They, themselves, do not think that they are odd, but not normal either, they just want to be reasonably crazy.