Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Writing is Talking Like Mime is Opera

A couple of readers were kind enough to ask me to elaborate on a point I made in My Last, Best 10 Tips On How To Make It As A Writer, about how talking and writing are "exact opposite uses of the language." So here's my case for why writing is no more like talking than mime is like opera:

Spoken language is very much about maintaining societal mores; it's basically about not offending people. Speaking to others is (duh) how we get along with them, so it's deeply grounded in ancient, at-this-point-instinctive ambiguity. The core, formative idea when you're talking to people -- especially in any kind of group setting -- is to keep things friendly, to accommodate the thoughts and feelings of the others in your group, to be ... well, social. Talking is about cooperative give-and-take, sharing, keeping things open-ended in such a way that no one involved in the conversation feels too threatened or challenged.

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