Everything I know about writing clearly I learned from Mrs. Parker.
When I got to Duquesne University, they placed me in Honor’s English with Mrs. Parker. For our first assignment I pulled out all the stops. The essay was dense with the fancy syntax and thesaurus vocabulary for which I had been rewarded in high school. Imagine my surprise when Mrs. Parker chose my paper to display to the class on the overhead projector — as an example of how NOT to.
What Mrs. Parker wrote at the end of that paper resounds in everything I’ve done since then as a writer:
Never sacrifice clarity, accuracy, meaning, for writing which sounds good, intelligent, knowledgeable. Remember that the purpose of language is to convey/reveal truth, not to obfuscate and confuse.