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Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Difference Between Talking and Writing

     Talking and writing are different in just the way listening and reading are different. That difference affects everything. As Fran Lebowitz says, "In conversation you can use timing, a look, inflection, pauses. But on the page all you have is commas, dashes, the amount of syllables in a word. When I write I read everything out loud to get the right rhythm."

     But most important of all, the focus of talk is totally different from the focus of prose. A talker focuses on the relationship between her or his subject and the listener….No third party is contemplated. Prose, on the other hand, must focus on an absent and, in fact "invented" figure known as "The Reader." Prose--all prose--addresses this absent but imagined figure and shapes itself and that figure and its needs in an unseen relationship between them.

Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, 2003

1 comment:

  1. Some great writers would be conversation challenged