A good writer is one you can read without breaking a sweat. If you want a workout, you don’t lift a book—you lift weights. Yet we’re brainwashed to believe that the more brilliant the writer, the tougher the going.
The truth is that the reader is always right. Chances are, if something you’re reading doesn’t make sense, it’s not your fault—it’s the writer’s. And if something you write doesn’t get your point across, it’s probably not the reader’s fault—it’s yours. Too many readers are intimidated and humbled by what they can’t understand, and in some cases that’s precisely the effect the writer is after. But confusion is not complexity; it’s just confusion. A venerable tradition, dating back to the ancient Greek orators, teaches that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, just ratchet up the level of difficulty and no one will ever know.
Don’t confuse simplicity, though, with simplemindedness. A good writer can express an extremely complicated idea clearly and make the job look effortless. But such simplicity is a difficult thing to achieve because to be clear in your writing you have to be clear in your thinking. This is why the simplest and clearest writing has the greatest power to delight, surprise, inform, and move the reader. You can’t have this kind of shared understanding if writer and reader are in an adversary relationship. (pp. 195–196)
Source: O’Conner, P. (2003). Woe is I: The grammarphobe’s guide to better English in plain English. New York: Riverhead Books.
- Paraphrase this passage from O’Conner using no more than 75–100 words. Remember that paraphrasing means summarizing the essence of the original text. It does not mean creating a thesaurus-based revision of the author’s original words or copying the piece, or any part of it, word for word. For this activity, do not use any direct quotes.
- Turn your paraphrase into Grammarly and SafeAssign.Review your reports.
- Review the other tools, resources, and services available to you through the Walden Writing Center that support your growth as a scholarly writer.
- Consider which of these resources you find to be most useful.
- Review learning resources on APA formatting rules and information within the Walden Writing Center on APA