Avoiding “Picasso-style” Writing to Say What You Mean – Vonnegut

It is so easy to be seduced by your own language, to be so taken with the way something you have written sounds that you completely miss the fact that it makes no sense. Almost everybody does it here and there. And then there are times when we, as editors, get lost in whole books that seem to be written like this. Occasionally we think we are losing our minds because the words are there in sentence format but they don’t add up to anything. We have to suss out what the writer really means to say.

We aren’t the only ones who think this sort of thing should be avoided by keeping it simple and being careful to say exactly what you mean. The late and famous author Kurt Vonnegut thought so too. Both appear in a list of eight Vonnegut writing rules in a book called HOW TO USE THE POWER OF THE PRINTED WORD by Malcolm Forbes. This must be some writing book because there is only one copy for sale on Amazon and the price is $998.98.

We got the list through a friend who found it on a website called Brain Pickings which describes itself as a “discovery engine for interestingness.” We do think Vonnegut is interesting and you can read all his writing rules HERE.