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We all know the scene: Dorothy closes her eyes,
and repeats the Good Witch's mantra,
"No coordinates exist like one's domicile,
no coordinates exist like one's domicile,
no coordinates exist like one's domicile."
Only Dorothy doesn't say that. She says five one-syllable words,
"There's no place like home."
Each a word you probably learned in your first year of speaking,
each perfectly concise.
It's not that L. Frank Baum didn't have a thesaurus,
it's that in most cases $10 words fail.
Would Aerosmith have had a hit with
"Ambulate This Direction?"
Would Patrick Henry have ignited a revolution by saying,
"Provide me with liberty or bestow upon me fatality?"
When it comes to words, bigger isn't always better.
Ten-dollar words are rendered worthless if they're not understood.
That's not to say every piece of literature
should be written at a fourth-grade reading level,
but it is important to know your audience.
If you're a novelist, your audience is probably expecting
300 pages of vivid descriptors.
At the very least, they're expecting
you won't use the same 50 words to fill those pages.
But most of us don't have the luxury of a captive audience.
We're competing against a whole world of distractions
and we're fighting for space in an attention span
that continues to shrink across generations.
So get to the point already.
Variety may be the spice of life, but brevity is its bread and butter.
So when it comes to $10 words,
save your money and buy a Scrabble board.