Not quite a decade ago, author Teju Cole penned Eight Letters to a Young Writer, a fictional exercise in which he gives advice to a young Nigerian writer in a series of eight letters. It’s a lovely, leisurely read, packed with practical advice for writers, seasoned and new.
Here are highlights from Cole’s first letter, Simplicity:
There are many who use big words to mask the poverty of their ideas. A straightforward vocabulary, using mostly ordinary words, spiced every now and again with an unusual one, persuades the reader that you’re in control of your language.
The cliché is an element of herd thinking, and writers should be solitary animals.
In short, keep it simple. He continues:
Read more than you write. In expressing the ambition to be a writer, you are committing yourself to the community of other writers. . . . Read Mann, García Márquez, Coetzee, Joyce…
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