Skip to main content

Lessons From On Writing: Vocabulary

As you may or may not know from our Instagram page, I recently read On Writing by Stephen King. No, I have not read any of his other books, but I plan on reading at least one of his other works. And while I'm not going to tell you everything about this wonderful book, I have still come across some things that I think are worth sharing.

In On Writing, King goes through what has created himself as a writer and some important things people should know about writing. One of the lessons in his book is on vocabulary. While this is one of the smaller parts of the book and some people might not even remember reading this, I really was able to connect with it and believe that it is something that all people should keep in mind (especially kids in school, oh my goodness).

What King said more or less about the subject of vocabulary was that you had to be careful with it and while it is certainly a helpful tool to have, you shouldn't stress over it. (Something which I am guilty about.) Sure, at least according to him, it is still wonderful to try to expand your vocabulary, but you don't want to go searching for a more complicated word just to make your writing seem better.

No, he says. Don't do that.

And, sure, I'm guessing that you've probably heard this a billion times or so from your teachers throughout the years. But did you listen to them? Well, that's another story for some, isn't it? If you were looking for a sign to stop doing this - searching a dictionary or the internet for fifteen valuable minutes just for a word - here it is. So maybe you weren't going to listen to your fifth grade writing teacher, but at least listen to a bestselling author, okay?

King really brings up a good point that vocabulary, in a sense, isn't everything. Some great authors have actually used a rather simple collection of words in their writing. And, yes: while you do find authors with an unimaginable variety of words (Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch...? Don't get me started on that one!), there are these writers who can use simple words to make a more complex picture.

These aren't examples that King used in his book, but I just want you to think of any amazing picture book you've read (titles such as Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes or What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada come to mind for me). Picture books are simple and easy reads; we can all agree on that. But some have great ideas and concepts behind them, yet the words used are basic vocabulary that can be easily understood by a child.

Or what about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon? Such a beautiful book, but simple vocabulary.

You see, you don't need complex words to make your writing better. After all, writing is about the ideas, which brings us to King's other remark on vocabulary:

Use the first word that comes to mind.

Sure: this has some exceptions, but I see where Stephen King's coming from when he says that the first word that pops up in your mind is probably the best word for this situation. It's what you mind thought of, and what word could better match what you're trying to say? (Like I said, there are some exceptions.)

I don't know about you, but I feel like these are two very important things to take from King's book, On Writing. If you want more tips on writing and information on what shaped King into the writer that he is, then I suggest you read On Writing for yourself. His sarcastic and just plain old funny humour definitely keeps the book going at a good, casual pace. An enjoyable read.

Comments

This Month's Popular Posts

Quotes: Audacity

As some of you may know by looking at my posts on our social media page (@readingisinevitable on Instagram), I am currently reading Audacity by Melanie Crowder. It is a beautiful book written in free verse, and follows the life of Clara Lemlich, a female Jewish immigrant who came to America in the early 1900s. (For the full summary of the book, click here.) I absolutely love books written in free verse, or any type of poetry, in fact! This book is so lovely that I have decided to dedicate a whole post to some of my favorite quotes or parts! (Note: I am only on page 294, and there are 366 pages, not including the extra content at the end of my local library's copy.)

Navigating Bookstagram - Stories & Tips From a Small(er?) Account - Hosting a SFS

All the way back in the beginning of April, I published a post on shoutout-for-shoutout sessions (SFS's) in the bookstagram community, specifically entering them. Now, I will - after promising to do so back in my first SFS post - finally discuss hosting your own SFS.

Em and I have done two shoutout-for-shoutout sessions in the past: one on our own when we hit 1,000 followers, and one with a group of bookstagrammers in honor of the then-new year, 2017. Therefore, shoutout-for-shoutout sessions can be hosted by one account or a group of accounts. As mentioned in my previous post, besides single and group shoutout sessions, there are now two types of SFS's. These two types are post SFS's and story SFS's, the latter available due to the relatively recent addition of Instagram Stories.

Basic Guidelines for All SFS's No matter the format of your SFS, there are some basic guidelines that most bookstagrammers follow when hosting a shoutout session. To start, some sort of

Easy Sticky Note Bookmark

Something I think that us bookworms or really anyone who is reading a book is that sometimes we aren’t really prepared to read a book. Not in the sense that we don’t know some words or the subject/events of the book are not what was expected. What I’m talking about is bookmarks. We never can really seem to find them when needed, or we don’t want to use that special bookmark we made or bought for $20. Whether it’s because you decided to start reading a book you found at a library/bookstore that you didn’t intend to get, or because you lost your bookmark or some other reason, we all face that big imposing question: Should I try to remember the page number, or should I dog-ear the book?

If you’re someone who deeply cares for all books - your own and others’ - then the last option isn’t really an option at all.

So here is a solution that might come in handy at school. Do you have a regular-sized square sticky note? Have a few seconds? Well, this little trick might save your book’s (and pos…

Navigating Bookstagram - Stories & Tips From a Small(er?) Account - Instagram Business Tools

Hello, fellow bookstagrammers! Today I'm sharing with you yet another installment of the Navigating Bookstagram series, and it's all about using Instagram's business tools for bookstagram! But what exactly are Instagram business tools?


Instagram has been offering tools and insights for businesses to use since 2014, but more useful, updated tools only came out in the spring of 2016. By connecting a Facebook account to the Instagram page, users can now see analytics on each individual post and their posts as a whole, as well as information on the demographic of their followers. Additionally, if they add the feature, users can view insights on their Instagram stories.

Setting Up Business Tools
First, you'll need to create a Facebook account and/or page. Once you have a Facebook account, you can create a business page by clicking the down arrow at the top of the screen and "Create Page." From there, choose from the options they give you (below). What you pick wil…