Don't Show Off Your Vocabulary
You are not responsible for the physical fitness of the reader, by trying to make him carry around a dictionary. It is not your role as a writer to educate your readers by using words that the reader will be forced to look up in the dictionary. First of all, he won't look them up. He'll make an assumption about what a word means and, after hesitating over that word, continue on - hopefully. Too many road blocks in the reading will disturb the flow of the action and discourage the reader. Remember, it is the story your are trying to tell.

There are few readers who will "appreciate" your efforts at education. We have all encountered words we didn't recognize, and made assumptions about their meaning, and continued reading.

For instance: "He was livid with rage." You've seen it often, and most of us assume livid means red in the face. Well, surprise, surprise. It means white in the face, as if the blood drained away.

Here are some bad examples of showing off your vocabulary to the detriment of the story and clarity. These examples are from a popular novelist. After you've read them ask yourself why they didn't just use the more direct and clearer words:

1. . . . then a ramp leading to a loading dock occupied by a number of cats, their INSOUCIANCE flickering with the wariness of the wild.

2. Marino displayed his badge and LACONICALLY explained that we had an appointment.
(Insouciance: Lack of concern or care; indifferent.
Laconically: briefly, tersely, concisely.)
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