The Dumbfuck Rule

From Pure Slush editor and publisher Matt Potter …

I have a rule I apply to words used by writers when I don’t understand the word or its meaning and ask for it to be changed, and I call it The Dumbfuck Rule.

And the rule is this: I am no dumbfuck, so if I don’t understand a word or its meaning, then neither will many other readers.

Writers’ responses to this vary, from

• “Readers can look the word up on the internet or in a dictionary,” to

• “Well, let’s expand readers’ lexicon and help them further discover the joy of language,” to

• “Many readers will understand it, so let’s not treat them all like they’re idiots,” to

• “That word has a precise meaning and that word is perfect for that sentence,” to

• “I use that word all the time and I know what it means,” to

• “The context makes it understandable,” to

• “It’s not really important what it means anyway,” to

• “I like it and I want to keep it,” to

• “Well, that’s only your opinion.”

To which I reply,

“Writing is about communicating with readers in effective ways and if a word used is a barrier to their understanding, then it’s not doing its job. So yes, please change it.”



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