Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 7 months ago

How do I dumb down my writing style?

I posted a story for critique in a writer's workshop and was told that I could write better than any of them could read.

They said they doubted any of them could ever write as well as I could, and they found the writing too complex.

That was just my regular writing style. How can I dumb it down so I can be accessible to a wider audience?


@Whatever I know that is the easiest conclusion to jump to, but I am not using overly complex words in my writing.

Update 2:

Here's a sample:

Update 3:

On the morning of the great departure, Glendon overslept.

The farewell feast of the preceding evening had been magnificent. All members of the Giff and Typic castes were present in the grand hall, and provision had been made in the courtyard for a number of the more tractable Disses.

Update 4:

The food was provided by the visiting Custodians in silvery envelopes, yielding delicious dishes of savory meats and vegetables when mixed with boiling water. The unsmiling pallid-fleshed men served exquisite wines in flexible glass bottles, followed by more envelopes containing delectable sweets.

Update 5:

Even the Disses, squabbling at their trundle tables in the courtyard, enjoyed tasty packaged treats and metal cylinders filled with sparkling flavored water, which exploded in colorful fountains of froth when shaken.

Everyone had a marvelous time except the Custodians themselves, sitting at King Vannon’s table on the royal dais, blank-faced in their tan coveralls, not sharing in the feast.

Update 6:

That was the opening segment of the story.

Update 7:

@They Pelted Us With Rocks... It's a post-apocalyptic society based on Medieval culture. The Custodians are androids. The people in the castle do not know what soda and crisps are.

29 Answers

  • 7 months ago

    Your writing is beautiful! Don't change it!! :)

  • KJC
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    What is the actual reason you want to dumb down your writing? Just because some of the other people in the workshop felt intimidated? Is this workshop for you or for them? Is it affecting your own outcome in the workshop? Write how you write.

  • 7 months ago

    Personally I didn't have too much trouble reading through your moreceu and i think it has a kind of idle merit, though I'm not some major in any literary discipline. If you're writing has any problems, I'd say that your vocabulary is somewhat archaic (i. e. "envelope" as used in this particular context; "trundle, dais, coverall") and I think perhaps you could try rewording "yielding delicious dishes of savory meats and vegetables when mixed with boiling water" to a more affable consonance.

    Your work, in spite of that, is above most of what I'm able to get my hands on anymore. Do you have any published books currently? I think your plot is, though alien and improbable, intriguing and could probably lead to some really cool development, though im somewhat biased because im obsessed with mid-european 1400's ****.

    I agree mostly with what's been said above; your critique group is not very constructive. but eh. im just a guy who normally reads books. what do i know.

  • Marli
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    I read your sample. I am an average middle-brow reader. I understood it, thought it was good and not at all over my head. It's like what I usually read.

    If the rest of your story is at the same level, I suggest that you find a more challenging critique group.

    • Elaine
      Lv 7
      7 months agoReport

      I had no difficulty in understanding your samples. The problem lies not with you, but with those in your workshop.

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  • Anonymous
    7 months ago

    Your writing isn't overly complex. Your sentences aren't very long or complex, and the vocabulary you use isn't unusual. The obvious conclusion here is that the problem lies with the people who can't read this. Is the group of writers made up of middle schoolers? Because they should be able to read this just fine. But you should find a new group, one aimed at helping adults.

  • 7 months ago

    I agree with the person who said "dumb down" was an offensive term. You shouldn't write down to your audience, especially if they've paid their hard earned money for your work. You're asking the wrong people. You need to ask people who read your work to explain in better detail what they mean. And remember they may have a point. Everyone can improve.

  • 7 months ago

    You're doing and getting a critique, dumbing down is not what you should be doing. You're writing for intelligent people, not for the people who are critiquing your work.

    Change how you ask them questions. WHY was it too complex, were you leaving something out? Was key info not being understood? Find out where they had confusion, it could be your word choice or how you put the sentence together. Ask where they bogged down, and then WHY that happened. Ask what they would change and how they'd change it and why they'd do it that way. Basically --- use this as a learning tool.

  • Elaine
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    Your question isn't really about writing style but about other things. While you have been given excellent answers don't forget about the importance of vocabulary. You don't reduce the vocabulary to pre-primer level but on the other hand you don't use words that are rarely used. It's not the modern style to pile description on top of description because if there is too much description the reader "tunes out". You have to make each word count. It is possible to write complex sentences or express ideas that are easily understood by the average reader. "Dumbing down" is rather derogatory as you are saying that your audience is too stupid to understand what you are saying. Have you considered your target audience.? The style of writing for a scientific article is much different from that used in writing a personal letter. Take the average newspaper for example, the articles are written at a gr 6 reading level. Another point you need to consider is punctuation. Punctuation is used to clarify your message.

    It would have been helpful if you had included an example of your writing style as that would have given us a better idea on how to frame our answers.

    Take the time to carefully read the answers and notice what they have in common.

  • Anonymous
    7 months ago

    Spend more time here. You’ll find plenty of “inspiration”.

    Source(s): I don’t doubt your self-assessment, but in your short blurb you repeated the words write, writing and writer five times. It’s a little repetitive.
  • 7 months ago

    Short sentences. Distill meaning down to as few words as necessary (no adjectives, adverbs, etc). Don't use a fancy word, unless using it has direct and specific meaning to reveal something about the character (don't church it up). Last, realize that people speak poor English. In the real world, people don't use proper grammar, complete sentences, etc. but most of the time we communicate just fine. What goes unsaid can be far more important in a story, than what gets stated. Lastly, a literary work of art recognizes that it is a collaboration of the writer, the characters, and the reader. Each contributes to the overall expression of the work. As writer, you only control a portion of that, what the reader creates in their mind is part of the work. As an author, part of your job is to run most of the marathon, but let the reader finish the race.

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