Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Sep 08 2006


Everyone speaks and writes with some sort of style. The place(s) where we began our life, the people who we listened to, our place in the pecking order of society—all these things and more combine to give us our voice as we communicate. I pay a lot of conscious attention to communication styles than most people, because a lot of what I do daily depends on words and their delivery.

Sometimes the very sound of someone's voice can make or break a speech. The way someone looks can influence our perception of their speech and their ability to communicate. Body language that doesn't match what someone is saying verbally can shut down an otherwise powerful delivery of the spoken word. Seeing (as well as hearing) someone speak can give an edge to speech or writing that would be otherwise left up to a reader's own interpretation and imagination. But the written word can fire can also fire the imagination for a reader who has no picture of an author to influence their thoughts.

I've enjoyed watching people argue over the work of Ann Coulter, whose words and self-portrayal elicit strong responses in almost everyone I know who has heard her speak or has read her words. I can't think of one person I've met who gave a lukewarm response to her. She either strikes a chord with someone's own strong opinions or she sets their teeth on edge. It's quite an ability and though I've never met her, she does seem keenly very aware that she has a strong effect on people. What I'm not certain of is that she persuades anyone to really take another look at things or to consider changing their opinions. If she speaks, or writes, to any issue she gets a loud hiss from the opposing side and a hearty "Atta girl!" from the side in agreement. Is this success? I don't know. Only Ms. Coulter can answer that question. It wouldn't be success for me, but we all have our own goals when it comes to communicating with others. And whether we admit it or now, we all have our own set of "baggage" that influences us to express ourselves in one way or another.

Florence King makes some interesting observations about Ann Coulter in Watch Ann Go Whoosh, including the danger of big media using her, and treating her, as some sort of cattle prod until "the next big thing" comes along. The argument is introduced as she is introduced and viewers get an adrenalin rush from the arguing and then mistakenly feel that something good just happened to change the world—and that they had some part in it because their emotions are aroused by the fight.

There's nothing wrong with arguing for argument's sake, if that's what you choose to do and if your audience knows that's all you're intending to do. But sometimes I wish that Ms. Coulter would take things just a step further for us, and let us see who she really is. We haven't really seen that yet, because she still seems, at least to me, to keep her real self walled-off behind the clever lawyer facade. I'm not imposing judgment on her style. It's her choice. But I'm hoping that someday she'll decide to use the spiritual vulnerablity she has in common with all humans to show us who she really is. If she does, I think we could be in for quite a treat.

posted at: 10:50 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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