June 23, 2010

The Thin Line Between Understatement and a Haymaker

Which is worse for a writer? Heavy-handed, punch-to-the-face argument? Or restraint to the extent that readers confuse it for disinterest and emotional vacuum? I'm not sure.

I think most writers are drilled so hard to avoid the didactic, we sometimes forget to speak. Most writing these days, whether on the back of a cereal box or on the internet, is indeed like a haymaker to the face.

There is a happy medium, moderation. And that's the aim for my final draft.

Understatement, reticence can be a marvel of coiled emotional power. Or it can bounce off the reader's psyche like a stone skipping along the water's surface. Understatement is a challenge for even masterful writers.

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