Plane English or speaking plainly? Use your own words


Language is what we rely on to understand something we are being told. We expect to know what it means. The only way we can do that is if the giver of the information delivers it clearly.

Your choice of words, the sequence you put them in and the structure of your sentences will set the feel and flavour of your writing as well as making it legible and intelligible.

Making ourselves understood

Some time ago I was listening to the radio and an official from the Coastguard Service was talking about deploying their ‘fixed-wing assets’. It took me a few seconds to realise she meant aircraft.

Specialist language is fine when you are talking to colleagues in your own profession, or when writing for a book – or a magazine – with a specific area of interest, but a novel needs to be more far-reaching than that. As writers we want to reach the widest audience possible.

Write in your own words

One of the tricks about writing is not to be grand. If you try for that memorable phrase or sentence, it won’t come and your writing will appear false.

Write as you speak. Write in your own words. Forget the amazingly profound and just write. You’ll surprise yourself now and again. Sometimes it is the most simply put phrase that surprises you.


That place we call imagination is a meditative process where we lose ourselves in the world we are creating. It is from that place that words and phrases arise. When you are writing ‘in the zone’ your mind will start making connections between concepts and thoughts almost subconsciously.

It is those subconscious processes that will widen your range of description and put the words on the page that surprise and please you. They can almost seem to come from nowhere.

Feed your creativity

Reading helps to feed your imagination and writing helps to exercise and express it. Without either you will not have the language or the words to make something beautiful and memorable.

So forget Plane Speaking and speak plainly.