I’m making my way through the book, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve, by Ben Blatt. So far, I’ve posted tidbits about his analysis of adverbs, exclamation points, gender identification in writing and writers following their own advice.
This post deals with a fascinating subject. It centers on simplicity in writing and how the words that are used determine the level of literacy.
Blatt starts out with the example of the work of Dr. Seuss. As a children’s writer, early in his career, Seuss was issued a challenge from his editor. After publishing Horton Hears a Who!, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo, his editor challenged him to write a story that first graders can’t put down.
Seuss was given a list of about 300 words and was told to make a book out of them. After months…
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