I could not disagree more with King on this one. While a novel should not necessitate grabbing a thesaurus for every other word, it should also not be dumbed down, simplified or obligate the writer to use a less fitting word because we are patronising and under estimating our audience. I don’t agree that the first word the writer chooses will be the best or the most authentic one. Sometimes after mulling over a sentence a better, more fitting word comes to mind that more concisely fits the meaning being expressed. Part of the editing process is tightening up, improving and ensuring the writing is concise, clear and engaging. Perhaps it depends on how you write, but if you write blind – that is without any significant editing while you write – then the editing process is vital to eradicate grammatical and editorial errors that in the passion of writing slip into every ones writing.
One of my favourite lines of writing advice is:
‘Write hot, edit cold’
If writing in this way then the first word you use may not be the most accurate or be the word that most concisely describes the meaning you are trying to convey. Edit cold, edit dispassionately with a critical eye and in doing so you often find that you have another, often less common word that is more suited to your meaning. It does no harm to elevate the vocabulary and the calibre of language used in your writing, I for one will make my readers occasionally reach for the thesaurus and the dictionary. If my writing is any good, then they will garner my meaning from the surrounding text or they will be happy to look it up and learn another word.
It saddens me when I see this kind of advice given to writers, our language is so rich and diverse to not use every facet of it will lead to the untimely death of too many words and the narrowing of the language we use.
The English language is beautiful. It should be explored, used, tasted, evoked, invoked and enjoyed. Or in a more common phraseology, ‘use it or loose it’.