Why Writers Must Assume their Readers are Intelligent

March 13, 2014


Wonder Sonder

A few weeks ago, I was reading through a number of  Paris Review interviews in search of clues as to how great writers view the crafting of their art. What emerged was an appreciating Jeffrey Eugenides’ crucial advice for aspiring writers :

I tell my students that when you write, you should pretend you’re writing the best letter you ever wrote to the smartest friend you have. That way, you’ll never dumb things down. You won’t have to explain things that don’t need explaining.

This seemingly innocuous advice pinpoints to a reality that many writers are acutely aware of: we live in a progressively technological world driven by attention competition, and therefore, in order to say anything of substance, we must act as though we know who we are speaking with, because this will allow us to say what we truly feel.

There are many things at play here: knowledge…

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