I have a pretty simple criteria for words I don’t want to see in books. It probably hasn’t changed in years. I don’t think I’ve ever explained exactly what it is. Your mileage may vary, but for me it is real simple:

If I haven’t heard a word spoken in conversation at least three times outside academia it shouldn’t be in a novel.

Are there exceptions? Sure.

Just not very many:

  1. Technical terms are exempt,
  2. The word should not have been used by the same person each time.
  3. One conversation where the word is repeated  counts as one occurrence.
  4. If you’re trying to convey something crucial about a character.

That’s it.¬† I read tons, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life talking to people on topics that run the gamut. Books are a form of communication, and the most effective forms of communication are pretty straightforward.

  • I learn new words from books. Having words that are unfamiliar in a book expands my horizons. If you read for pleasure, you should long since have mastered the skill of “meaning from context”.

    SO many of the books I’ve read in my lifetime would be excluded by this rule, it’s not funny.