Writing and Editing Advice from Colette

What You Don’t Say Can Be More Important Than What You Do Say by Gene Griessman, Ph.D Whatyousay.com is fond of “The Writer’s Almanac,” which is a regular feature on NPR. It focuses on writers, as its title suggests, and often has wise, practical recommendations for those of us who love words.  Bravo to Garrison Keillor and his associates! Recently “The Writer’s Almanac” had a great quotation from the French novelist who’s known as Colette.  Her full name was Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette; she was born in a French village in 1853; and is best remembered in the U.S. for “Gigi,” which was made into a popular movie. Here’s a quote from Collette about writing: “Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head, and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” Destroying your own stuff, as Collete puts it, is essential to effective communication, whether you write articles, books, or plays.  Just think about the people you’ve had to listen to who lacked the capacity to delete uninteresting, irrelevant details.  One way to spell “unedited” is b-o-r-i-n-g. Movie-makers know that you have to be willing to leave good stuff on the cutting room floor. Comedians know that too many words spoil the joke.  Public speakers know that that if you’re long-winded and wordy, you lose an audience.  Journalists know that if you don’t leave some words out of an article, an editor will. If you can’t bear to leave anything out of your story, few will be able to bear reading, seeing, or hearing it.

 

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