F is for fustian adj., pretentious

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Aren’t you glad I didn’t pick floccinaucinihilipilification for this installment? Me too.

Although…

It would have worked well for this little post on pretentious writing!

As a freelance writer, you probably already know the gist of the rule here: Unless you have a darn good reason, don’t use a word people need to look up in the dictionary when one they already know will suffice.

They way I see it, it’s a courtesy to your readers to cut out the esoteric obscure junk. Imagine your magazine article or blog post is a path. If you write well, the path is free and easy and helpful. If you don’t write well, the path becomes riddled with irritants and obstacles.

A missing comma slows the traveler down. A misspelled word causes the traveler to loser her balance.

A pretentious word? Well, that’s worse. That’s not just some unwitting hiccup in the textual landscape; that’s stringing some invisible fishing line across the path with the intention of watching the reader trip and land nose-first in the dirt.

I can see their metaphorical eyes pleading why?

And you? You just point, laugh, and talk about how you learned that word in fifth grade, duh!

Pretentious writing is off-putting. So people who want readers should shy away from it.

In his post “Seven Easy Steps to Pretentious Writing,” Michale Offut pokes a little fun at snobbish writing in general, turning a simple favorite into a laughable monstrosity of a poem.

It’s a brilliant way to drive the point home, isn’t it? I think we should all give it a go! In the comments write your own example or take a moment to turn the following sentence into something absurdly pretentious:

Jeremy went to the store to buy a loaf of bread, but the cashier said they were out.

 

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