That Good Talker Is Probably a Good Writer? Don’t Bet on It.

By Jack Limpert

“The truth is that the writer is almost never as fascinating as the writing.” —From a New York Times interview with writer, actor, and director J. J. Abrams

For an editor, it always was a nice surprise to find that a writer who seemed ordinary in conversation could write pieces that showed a really interesting mind at work.

The hardest lesson to learn was the reverse—finding out that a good talker could write dull, clunky pieces. In 50 years as an editor, I paid too many kill fees because I had trouble believing that all that charm wouldn’t make it on to the printed page.

As for good talkers being good editors, don’t bet on that either. The best editors are very good listeners.

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