Stephen’s Statements A little bit of everything from Stephen Duncan Jr, a Software Developer in Portland, Oregon

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ann Althouse on Readability

Ann Althouse writes about readability:

The real question is how sophisticated your ideas are. If you are saying simple things in convoluted prose, you're a terrible writer who doesn't deserve to be read. Point me to the writer -- like Mark Twain -- who's saying striking, new things in clear prose! Blogs, especially, should be easy to read. But blog posts should contribute something new to the mix. Do you seriously think you're doing a better job if you're writing something harder to read? Don't you think Mark Twain worked over his prose to make it readable?

Frankly, I'm disgusted by the atrocious writing I have to read every day as part of my job. Frequently, reading judicial decisions and law review articles, I struggle to get the point, I take the time to decode the eye-glazing verbiage, and when I get it translated into plain English, I see it's a pretty simple point. This kind of writing is a product of laziness, the lack of genuinely interesting ideas, a careerist effort to seem smart and high-level, and a selfish lack of consideration for the reader.

I couldn't agree more. I just hope that I'm successful in my attempts here at writing clear prose. It'd be nice to be considered interesting too, but I know I'm fully succeeding at that yet...