From the heart of a very hungry Writer

I’m in hungry mode as I write this.

Just got back from work at the hospital some few minutes ago and there’s nothing in the fridge or pantry that looks interesting right now. I’ve ordered some Chinese food and the delivery man is expected to reach my front door in about thirty minutes – very long time to wait. But I’m a patient ‘waiter’ (…not) and it gives me an opportunity to share my thoughts on writing.

It’s occurring to me that were I to cook, and I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good cook, I could easily whip something up. It doesn’t have to be complicated…maybe, stir some cooked rice in tomato sauce, oil and pepper and call it red rice.  Or jollof rice. Simple. Some gals add all these stuff and at the end of the day, you’re not sure of what exactly is served on your plate.

Writing is a lot like cooking. The simpler your ingredients, the more appealing your food. In fact, you’ll have a happier stomach. There’s an old adage from my culture that says, “A delicious soup is the result of spending lots of money,” but I’ve discovered that if you want a disastrous conclusion to your cooking, just make sure you include excess of everything – all in the name of showing you’ve got money. What’s the point of having food that is oversaturated with ingredients such that you have a very conflicted tongue and a gassy tummy?

Same with writing. What’s the point of having all these many words and I leave my readers confused – all in the name of showing that I’m the master of vocabulary? Yes, we writers love words…and we can love it way too much, resulting in some pretty atrocious work. Our readers are not exactly sure if they are reading English anymore. Their head batters with continued ache and they are almost moved to committing suicide because the sentences are long, convoluted, and truly appalling.

So when next I write, I’m remembering this simple rule: The simpler my words, the better my work. The shorter my sentence, the more pleasing it gets.

Now if only my Chinese food would develop wings and fly here!

Photo courtesy: My healthy food list

Categories: Blog | Tags: , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “From the heart of a very hungry Writer

  1. I agree with you. Keeping the narrative simple and easy to understand is the way forward. I have no patience with writers who try to impress the reader with long words and complicated sentences where simple ones would do. If I come across such a book, I don’t usually read beyond the first page….

    • FG, for the sake of empathy to a fellow writer, I try to read past the first chapter. But if I see that it follows the same trend of wordiness, I’ll drop it like a sack of hot potatoes.

  2. I so agree. Simplicity is best.
    Unless your book is being used as final year senior school literature exam. In which case exposing students to new words becomes a good thing. LOL

    • Kiru, Lol. I keep laughing at the comment “Senior school exam.” And methinks that even english textbooks shouldn’t be that complicated otherwise it’s going to be like having a 4 year old read a book with chemical structures.

  3. Simpler is usually better, however I am not sure that is the case all the time. I like complex story lines that unfurl in a way that puts all my predictions to shame. I would like to learn at least one new word when I read a book. That said, I agree that words (in terms of vocabulary) should be kept as simple as possible. I definitely will not buy any book that Chris Okotie writes.

    • Natural Nigerian, intricate plots make the book even more interesting to read, but complex words and wordiness make it hard to follow and it’ll eventually kill the life of the story the writer is trying to tell.

      And thanks for visiting. I’ve been over to your blog and I’ll bookmark it and visit again

  4. Kiru made me laugh with that statement, lol..

    I definitely agree with you on simplicity.

  5. Dawn

    Hmmmm…Chinese sounds good right now!!!

  6. The most profound things are the simplest. But as humans we seem to lean a lot towards complexity. Paul’s only recorded worry, I think, is that people may not accept the gospel for its simplicity! So simplicity is risky even if genius and we need to be ready to face the risk of rejection or misunderstanding for simplicity.

    We who write need to follow the example of Christ and the word and present our thoughts in the simplest of ways while conveying profundity, mystery, suspense or whatever we want to present.

    Emerson said, “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”

    • I love how you say that: “The most profound things are the simplest.” You are a good user of words Tolu and that’s what one of the things I admire so much about you. You use so very few words to convey much. Thanks as always for coming by and adding meaning to my posts. Blessings!

  7. To reverberate what was said, simplicity is better.

    If i had to use the dictionary too many times while reading a book. That takes the joy out of reading for me. Some of us are words challenge like that, lol

    • Dear Buky, good to have you here. It’s been a while I’ve been over to read your posts…and I’m coming there ASAP ’cause I know I wouldn’t need a dictionary to enjoy one of my fave blogs (lol)

  8. That’s why I love Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things fall apart’. Simplicity to the core, something I strive for. I confess I sometimes tend to get carried away with myself, leaving my readers way behind. I’m learning daily. Thank you, Lara for this reminder.

    • MOH, it’s been a long while I’ve read Things fall apart. Like say, about 20+ years. lol. For the sake of enjoying simplicity, I’m tempted to get another copy on Amazon.

  9. Great read and great comparison between food and writing. And to think you came up with all that on an empty stomach:-) Growing up in Ghana, big words were the way to show you had book knowledge. I had this male friend and every time we talked I had to go home and read half of what he said in the dictionary. Talking to him was no fun. His writing was even worse! Lol!

    • Kiru Taye of actually wrote that I make the most sense when I’m hungry (lol). Curious to know what happened to your male friend though. Perhaps he got a job working dictionaries, huh? Just kidding. Have a good one girl!

  10. stir some cooked rice in tomato sauce, oil and pepper and call it red rice. Or jollof rice.
    I think I speak for all West Africans when I say red rice and Jollof rice are very different (that back what you said!)

    What’s the point of having food that is oversaturated with ingredients such that you have a very conflicted tongue and a gassy tummy?
    Haven’t had to sleep with the enemy before, have you? (LOL. Can’t you just see this in a story?)

    Yes, we writers love words… Guilty 😉

    Great post, Lara. I always ask myself “Is this necessary?”, “Is it entertaining?”, “Are you wasting the reader’s time?” etc. It does help, especially the last one. Cos sometimes I write a line that’s really good, but ultimately, when I ask myself if it adds to the plot, I realise that I can do without it.


    • LOL…Empi, they are the same to me. It’s all the same color, isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by Empi. I’m loving your posts on your blog and your writings posted on Romance writers of West Africa. So you’ve got yourself a big fan here.


  11. PS. I meant “Take back what you said!”

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