A lesson for speakers from Stephen King

I am busy reading Stephen King’s “On Writing”. This book is part autobiography, and part lessons for aspiring writers. Aside from giving an interesting perspective into Stephen King's life, it contains many practical skills in the art of writing.

If you speak to David Brooks, he will tell you that one of the key components of good speech writing is good speech editing, and that is where this book helps. Because, like writers of novels, speech writers need to learn the art of editing.

Here are two examples from Stephen King's school days. When he was about 16, he was employed by John Gould, writing for the sport section of the local paper. He was told by John”

  • “When you write a story, you?re telling yourself the story, when you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
  • “Gould said something else that was interesting on the day I turned in my first two pieces: write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

Doesn't that sound like what we need to be doing with our speeches; take out what is not the speech, and leave the rest?

ps: you don't need to be a Stephen King fan to appreciate and learn from this book.

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