Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Older Dog Wisdom #9 - Memoirs

As Tux and I made our way around our favorite park, I was struck by the number of words he knew. In addition to the usual words like “no,” “good boy,” and “walk,” he also knows “this way,” “okay,” and “go around.” The latter are not words that most dogs know and respond to.

These thoughts led me next to thinking about the people who advise writers to dumb down their writing. Surely, if my 11-year-old dog knows simple words and phrase, the reading public should be a step above Tux and know more complicated words and phrases. If that’s true, why, then, are writers being told to dumb down?

Are the people telling us to dumb down simply insulting the reading public or are they, themselves, unable to understand so-called 50-cent words and so want writers to write down to their level? Readers and writers alike love the richness of the language. I’ve read a few books lately whose authors have taken the writing advisors to heart and dumbed down their writing. What a waste it was for the writer and the reader both to do that. We both wasted out time on this nonsense. I am loathed to believe that the authors of those books were not capable of using 50-cent words.

I’m pretty sure that Tux would have been happy to read those books, so full of 2-cent words, bland images, and trite dialogue. He would have reveled in the books because he could understand the words. They were directed right at him.

If people want to read books with only simplistic plots and 2-cent words, there are probably hundreds of children’s picture books they will enjoy. In the meantime, let the adults read intelligent, complicated plot- and character-driven books strewn with a plethora of 50-cent words, rich descriptions of place and time, and scintillating dialogue.

Tux is thinking about writing his own book now that he understands that he doesn’t have to use the English language to it’s full potential. He says he’s got a plot in mind. He says its about two dogs, one a girl and one a male. They’re brother and sister and they’ve roam around the world with their humans.

I asked him if his book was going to be a memoir. He looked at me funnily. “What’s a memoir?” he asked.

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