Award Winning Author

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Karen Dales is the Award Winning Author of "The Chosen Chronicles" which include "Changeling: Prelude to the Chosen Chronicles," "Angel of Death: Book One of the Chosen Chronicles," and "Shadow of Death: Book Two of the Chosen Chronicles." She is currently at work on "Thanatos: Book Three of the Chosen Chronicles" and a Historical Romance set in Edo Japan.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

3000 Words

I have been a writer since I could hold pencil to paper. Most authors can claim the same.

Through my school years I was lucky enough to have teachers that encouraged my creative writing. I even 'self-published' a short story when I was in Grade 5 as part of an English project. I still remember the story--Tuesday Jane Disappeared. I remember the editing process with my teacher. I recall the pictures I drew to illustrate the story. I can still visualize how this book looked when it was bound with a cover I created. It was the spark that ignited the desire to write professionally.

In high school, I took all of the creative writing courses offered. I couldn't get enough, but that wasn't all. I was blessed with teachers who allowed their students to be creative in their assignments. Instead of an essay, I created a fake newspaper. Instead of spouting off facts by rote for tests, I was allowed to write fiction so long as the facts were still there. In my four years there, my love for writing grew.

In university I joined the faculty of humanities so that I could enter their creative writing department. Nervous, I presented my portfolio and was accepted for 1st year creative writing. I loved it. I loved learning how to craft fiction, how to edit it, how to make words flow in a way that would delight readers. I applied for second year. A smaller number were chosen. I got in. Third year came, the hardest to get into. I applied and I was chosen. I was thrilled. I learned more, but now I was placed in the position of being a prose writer in a group of poets. I don't do poetry. I don't like it. I don't write it. That's me. My professor loved my work. The others enjoyed it, but, being poets, couldn't offer much in the way of criticism. That was left to the professor and I learned more about editing than ever before.

Now, years later, I am a published author of three books, with at least two more on the way. I am also a freelance editor, having edited children's books to erotica. I love reading. I love writing. I love editing, but one thing I have discovered is that there is truth to the belief that one only requires 3000 words to communicate. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate well when it comes to creative writing.

If you've ever seen John Branyan's stand up sketch "The Three Little Pigs" you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Through the centuries, we have lost the use of many wonderful words in our everyday use of the language. Worse, there appears to be a similar occurance in modern literature and genre fiction.

Can one write a novel with the knowledge of 3000 words?


Will it read well?

Probably not. Word repetition on paper (or digitially) pops out. Words that repeat too often stick out like sore thumbs.

I remember reading a wonderful fantasy novel within a 10 book series. All the other books were exemplarily written and edited, except for this one book. I can't tell you how many times I saw "Nonetheless" or "Nevertheless" in the novel. I read this novel several years ago. Sadly, this is what stuck out. Thankfully, the next novel in the series didn't have this editorial faux paux.

There is a reason why the thesaurus was invented: to help writers write better; to learn new words; to ensure that creative writing includes more than the use of 3000 words.

If you are a writer, observe your process and determine better descriptives. Increase your vocabulary so that when you write your narrative you will have the tools to create lasting and profound images in the imaginations of your audience. Lastly, so that your editor can see that you can write beyond a grade 6 reading/writing level and not have to pull you up by your bootstraps to learn more than 3000 words.

I have been accused of using words that my readers don't know. If it means that they have to go to a dictionary to look it up to learn the meaning of a new word, then I know, as an author, I am doing more than providing entertainment...I am providing education.


  1. Hi, Karen! Loved visiting your blog and increasing vocabulary in reading-writing :-)
    Enjoy your day!


  2. Nice; definitely need to use that right button sometimes to get a better selection. Thoughtful and inciteful blog

  3. You can take all the writing courses under the sun Karen, but take it from me, unless you buckle down and write something that appeals to the fussy reading public, you're wasting your time.

    In the world of books nothing has changed. We are all judged by a latest offering. From our point of view if we are receiving regular royalty payments into our bank accounts we know we are accepted. What I've just said may sound callous. It's not. It's simply the reality of the world of books.

    Good luck with your writing. :)

  4. I did enjoy your article and am in agreement, mostly.

    When I read (And I was a high school English teacher) I don't want to have to use a dictionary to read a book.

    Personally, I write fiction. My goal is to entertain, not teach.

    I've read books where I have to look up words--and it annoys me no end--though e-readers make it quite easy to do so.

    Guess I want my readers thinking about the story--not about what they may learn of the English language reading it.

  5. Hey. Good post. I think vocabulary is important, specially if you are a writer. The thing is that every language is always evolving. So... the question would be: should writers go with this evolution and not use "old words"? -Anyway I was always told not to use complicated words...

  6. AMEN to this! I have been told for years that I speak in too many adjectives. I write the same way. I love the beauty of words and to truly enjoy that beauty you have to have an intimate knowledge of it!

  7. In talking to other writers---apparently my opinion on the matter is not the consensus. Curious. Very curious.

  8. I love the fact that you use "hard words!" As an educator, we should expand our a blogger, we should push our readers by opening up worlds to them through words! Swing by my world sometime...I love writing too!

  9. I'm with you, Karen. One can never have too many words. And speaking of those wordy tomes, is there anything sexier than a big fat thesaurus dressed in leather? I think not.