I was having a discussion with another author the other day about words. Why do we pick the ones we use when we write? What should the focus be on, the words themselves or the image they are meant to convey?
When I first started writing, I used a lot of formal language. For example from my first story, The Price of Honor: The strange color registered with his consciousness but he continued to stare blankly about, trying to process the abrupt dislocation that he had just experienced.
Right . . . because most people think or talk that way. I don't think so.
After getting advice from other authors and having readers tell me what works and what doesn't, I don't write like that anymore. I've realized, that for my writing style, smaller is better. I narrate my stories the same way I speak and leave formal language for dialogue by characters that need it. If I were to re-write that line now, it would be different and look like this: He noticed the strange color of the plants, but he stared blankly at the bush in front of him. He'd expected a city landing pad when he woke up, not this wilderness.
They mean the same thing, but my words aren't getting in the way of the image in the second line. People know the plants are a strange color and he's in a wilderness that he wasn't expecting. That's all that is needed. Instead of flexing my vocabulary muscles, I'm letting the story speak in a voice that most readers will be more familiar with and understand more easily. I think it gives my stories a readability that they were lacking in the past.