There is a reason that the television show, “Are you Smarter than a 5th grader” was developed. Most people are not any smarter than the average 5th grader; I know, most people have graduated from the 12th grade, but most never got any smarter than they were in the 5th grade.
That is why I write with the 5th grader in mind. No big words, no complicated sentences. Simple: With simple description, simple dialogue, simple word pictures.
I remember nothing from my graduate school days except the following story.
One of my weekly assignments for a particular professor was to write exactly one page, to be turned in every Wednesday. It could be on any subject using any style. I typed out my best writing, only to get my paper back on that first Friday with an F on the top. I was crushed. My professor said, “You have a second chance to take it home over the weekend, rework it, and turn it in on Monday.” I took on the challenge.
I turned in the rewrite on Monday morning; on Wednesday, I received it back with an A and a note: “Great rewrite!! Congratulations!” I learned the lesson quickly: tight, simple writing without much fluff and unnecessary adjectives won the teacher over.
Don’t get me wrong; I like words: big words. I speak with big words and enjoy watching my fellow workers scratch their heads at my description of life; I just don’t like to write as if every word was looked up in the Thesaurus to discover a more complicated sounding thought.
Jerry Jenkins, the author of the “Left Behind” series, which has sold over 60 million copies, had his writing analyzed; he was surprised to find out that he also writes on a 5th grade level. His success should say something to writers of Christian fiction: don’t make it too complicated if you want people to buy and read your writing.
When I write, I view words not as children, but as employees; if an employee doesn’t work, I get rid of them: treat words the same.
Put up a picture of a little 5th grader above your computer and after every write say, “Will she get it?”
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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