1. Joe Rega says

    This is extremely interesting. Thank you for posting this!

  2. Will says

    I suspected this was the case, thanks for confirming. I think that overly-dressed content looks fake and comes off as desperate for links / shares.

    As a side note, I just ordered Brainfluence and look forward to reading it especially after your Pubcon session.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Thanks, Will, I hope you enjoy Brainfluence!

      My own experience suggests that “clarity of concept” is key to getting shared. A blog post could be thoughtful, insightful, and well documented, but if the core idea is too complex or simply hard to spot, it won’t get shared. Fits in with the overuse of modifying words.


  3. krattiger says

    Some examples would have been entertaining & illustrative.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      krattiger, I think examples of complex writing wouldn’t necessarily pop out as “bad” – in fact, they might seem well-written and even literate. It’s just that their tendency to go viral or be shared via social media is lower. There are a variety of tools that scan text for reading comprehension level, and it seems that easier to read stuff gets shared more.


  4. Wes Man says


    Sometimes I tend to stray in the “academic” language and people just watch me with the big eyes.

    Switching back to “street” fixes things.

    I’ve tested that in various forms (phone texts, social medias, meetings in person, audio, even public speaking) and people do like it when it’s: 1) simple
    and 2) in their language.

  5. Gail Perry says

    I guess Hemingway was right!

    1. Roger Dooley says

      It’s hard to argue with Hemingway, Gail!


  6. B. Ligerent says

    As Stephen King said, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

  7. AHB says

    Good point.
    Another important aspect about the simplicity of the message is the fact that a simple and concise message is easily processed, therefore easily encoded and remembered after a certain time.

  8. iustin says

    yeah.do with words like you did with the food.if u want somebody to share your post be ready to be stupid.people want fastfood.understand this and you can understand most of people behaviour nowadays.
    hemingwey was a mediocre writer

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Iustin, I guess one way you could interpret this is that you should “dumb down” your copy. Perhaps a more positive interpretation would rely on cognitive fluency: the ease with which our brains process information affects how that content is perceived by us. Of course, introducing terms like cognitive fluency probably results in increased disfluency. 🙂


  9. clark cook says

    Personally, and speaking strictly and exclusively from my own confined and circumscribed point of view and, here, expressed opinion, I find the reiterated and boringly–if not downright hackneyed, trite, oft-repeated, and worn-out–so-called argument’ and supporting position in flagrant, egregious, and excessive approbation of an unadorned, stark, non-adjectival, non-descriptive, lean, clean, writing style to be–no! not a defence against blurring and misleading and confusing obfuscation, on the contrary and even from another or different angle of examination and perspective, the fully descriptive and richly effusive employment and use of adjectives definitely and without hesitation enriches and even deepens and intrigues the reader’s experience. Hemingway was certainly and indubitably wrong and incorrect. As proof–just contemplate, cogitate, think, and consider how many people read Henry James for pleasure and enjoyment?

  10. clark cook says

    Just noticed Roger Dooley’s chin-stroking over the phrase “cognitive fluency” in his post, just above. Language should do more than simply transfer information from writer to reader. Language should also ITSELF quicken the reader’s attention and provoke his/her understanding with newness. Newness, not strangeness (which simply deflects). A phrase like “cognitive fluency” is clear, but it also compresses new meaning into a new package and PULLS the reader forward. Yes, we should strive to say more with fewer words, but that quest should quicken our perception of language as a CREATIVE tool. Clear, plain writing does not have to be ugly.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Lots of research confirms that “newness” is good, Clark – our brains look for new things, and are far more likely to notice something new than whatever was there before. “Difficulty” isn’t so good. It slows comprehension and tires the brain.


  11. Samuel says

    I didn’t think of it that way. I guess you can never over-complicate yourself through doing too much. Adjectives have their place, but never omit them out either. They bring some life to your writing.

    I think using adjectives is just a small part of having it go viral. Viral work has always been produced with all the qualities that it takes. I did talk about that in my article “How To Write A Killer Article Like A Killer!”.

    Never over-do things. Excellent article! 🙂

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