To Be Simple Is To Be Great

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote those oft-quoted words. It’s the first thing I write in new notebooks and have since junior high. It’s more meaningful than ever to me now.  I write cyber crime thrillers. It’s a subject I know way too much about – I’ve been fighting cyber crime for nearly 20 years. Being that close to a complex technical subject means, as a writer, I wrestle daily with terminology. Simplifying computer science concepts that take days, weeks, months and sometimes years to learn is a challenge. I do my best to distill these concepts in plain English. It’s when my development editor, beta readers and agent all unanimously agree that I know I’ve pulled it off. Only 1 of the 3 are on board with the most recent draft of one of my WIPs which means I’ve got work to do. It’s helpful that media and culture are starting to catch up to raise awareness of technology issues but I fell into a trap of overconfidence (or habit) because of that. Thus Emerson’s words came back to me. Keeping it simple isn’t just about the phrasing, it’s also recognizing when the “how” is beside the point. Most people don’t know, or care, how our cell phones work. We just want to know if we get reception and where we left the charger. My lesson these days is focusing the spotlight on the “who” and “why.” Simply put, it’s the characters, silly. 

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