When Working With Writers, Was How Well They Talked About a Story Important?

Ed Kosner edited Newsweek, New York, Esquire, and the New York Daily News and I once asked him, “When dealing with writers, did you focus mostly on what they had written versus how well they talked about a story?” His answer:

I only cared about how they wrote. Over the years, I worked with writers who were frighteningly articulate and others who could hardly describe what they wanted to do. Some of the big talkers were pedestrian writers and some of the mumblers wrote like a dream. When I had come to trust a writer, all I needed to hear was “This is a good one” or “I don’t have it yet, but I’ll get it” or “This one might not work out” to know what was coming.

Whether they were talkers or monosyllabic, the one thing I hated to hear when someone turned in a story was, “I love this piece”—which almost always meant it was overwritten or self-indulgent. The pieces handed in diffidently were invariably the better ones.


Speak Your Mind