Month: December 2016

Writing Nopes: Simplistic Does NOT Mean Simple

Please stop using “simplistic” when you want to say something is simple but are trying to sound like you’re smart, because what you’re actually doing is making yourself look stupid.

Simplistic is pejorative; when you describe something as simplistic, you’re criticizing it as being oversimplified to a fault. It does not mean something is well-designed, clean, uncluttered, easy to use, efficient or in any way positive.

An example of the wrong use of “simplistic” is clear in this review of a waffle maker by Consumer Reports:

The incorrect use of "simplistic" in a Consumer Reports review.

The incorrect use of “simplistic” in a Consumer Reports review.

So, the translation of CR’s bottom line is that this waffle maker is “a highly affordable, poorly designed and superficial model with great results.” Obviously this is not the intended meaning, because it even goes on to describe it as a “quality waffle maker.”

It is the writer and the copyeditor that are not quality here.

If you’re want to be positive, the word you’re looking for is just good ole “simple.” Use it, and quit trying to sound clever.

Sold a Story to FFO

I got good news the other day: Flash Fiction Online bought my story “The Yankee at the Sitting-Up.” I don’t know yet when it will appear.

I’ve been having a tough time getting my writing side back online, so this is a big boost to that effort. It’s a reprint, so it’s not the kind of boost I really need—I need to complete and sell a new story. But this is still critical in helping me, especially after this week.

This week I wrote almost nothing, and I have no good excuse for it at all. I’ll check it up to it just being a bad week. Now the weekend starts, so I’ll make it a better weekend. My plan was to finish a draft of a short story this week, so I’m going to try and close the deficit by completing it this weekend.

If I write anything this weekend, it’ll be a victory. Gotta keep hammering this granite block in my head, keep making progress, however minor at this stage.

Writing Nopes: The Smell of Death

emoji_poop“The smell of death.”

No. Just, no. Stop using this cliche. It’s utterly devoid of narrative value—in fact, it has negative value; it deducts from your story, and it trashes your credibility as a writer.

What does death smell like? Like rotting meat? Say that. Like infection? Putrescence? Describe it using a specific we can imagine. Maybe it smells sickly sweet or cloying? Or could it be acrid? Like sulfur? Poisonous? “Like death” can mean a bazillion different things, but at the same time means absolutely nothing.

But when it appears in your writing it smells like one thing: Shitty writing.

Never use this cliche. Ever. EVER.

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