Saturday, February 07, 2009

Wisdom from the late DFW

Looking through Consider the Lobster to get a quotation for a friend this evening, I happened upon this little bit of wisdom for writers, from DFW, distilled down for brevity:

The two most important rules for writers are:

(1) The reader cannot know or perceive anything other than what you put down on the page;
(2) You cannot expect the reader to feel the same way you do about any given thing.

These rules, he says, are so plain and obvious that it is astounding how difficult it is to get college-level students to put them into practice. They are truisms that we wave our pens at and say, "of course, of course," and then they totally fly out of our heads while writing. To simplify, of course, one could boil those down to one thing:

* The reader is a separate human being living in a separate world from you, whose only intersection with your world is the words you put down on the page.

Just something to remember.

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