I've been trying to read some of the books in my extensive 'to be read' digital pile lately. As I was reading one of them, I was reminded again why having a good crit partner or partners is so crucial.
Let's face it, writing a novel is a huge undertaking. There are 12 million details to keep track of, and seemingly 12 million rules of writing that the world wants you to keep in mind as you revise. Sentences and paragraphs that make perfect sense to you might have a glaring error that your crit partner finds. There have been many times where I've read a section of my manuscript for what feels like a zillion times, only to have someone else come along and pick up on something that, when they point it out, seems quite obvious.
In one of the books I recently read, they could have used a crit partner to point out their heavy handed use of what I call "ten dollar words." I don't mind a few of them. In fact it's cool to go to a dictionary once or twice and look up a long and unfamiliar word.
But when it happens multiple times within a few paragraphs, and then multiple times throughout the manuscript, the novelty of dragging out your dictionary loses its luster. Unfortunately, it begins to sound like the author sat there with his manuscript in one hand and a synonym finder in the other, looking for the longest, most awkward words possible to replace simple, clear and easy words that could have been used in its place.
In the grand scheme of things, I don't see this problem too often. Perhaps that's why when I do, it does seem so glaring.
So do me a favor. When you're writing, go ahead, throw in a few ten dollar words. I like my dictionary. We're friends.
Just don't get carried away.