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Uncle Orson's Writing Class
On Rhetoric and Style
May 12, 1998


Question 1:

It seems that there are people who "are writers," and there are people who "are not." When the "writer" writes something — let it be a book, an interview, or a letter to his legendary author — the reader can usually detect "Yep, he is a writer." You have referred to that as rhetorical ability. Is this ability learnable? If it is learnable, it is bound to be something you can improve, and I'd like to improve mine very much.

-- Submitted by Yaniv Aknin


Question 2:

Why was I so disappointed with Treasure Box as opposed to how much I enjoyed Pastwatch? (I was given both at the same time, so they are easiest for me to compare.) When I read Treasure Box, the beginning (character creation) was far better than what I have ever seen you — or anyone else — do in two chapters. As the end approached, I had to force myself to read the rest. It was as if your "rhetorical ability" was slowly thrown out the window with every page starting at Quentin's encounter with Madeleine. Pastwatch, though not the book I like the most, was terrific all the way through — not a single boring page, not even on first reading.

-- Submitted by Yaniv Aknin


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