Stephen Koch Quotes

Enjoy the top 8 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Stephen Koch.

Stephen Koch Quotes

Film and television have convinced too many writers that heaps of dialogue make novels more like movies and therefore good. This is an amateurs fantasy, and it has induced some writers to surrender the few advantages they have over cinematic storytelling. The moviemaker is stuck with what the camera can see and the microphone can hear. You have more freedom. You can summarize situations. You can forthrightly give us peoples histories. You can concentrate ten years into ten words. You can move anywhere you like outside real time. You can tell us—just tell us—what people are thinking and feeling. Yes, abundant dialogue can lighten a story, make it more readable and sparkle with wonders. But it is pitiably inadequate before what it is not suited to do.
— Stephen Koch —

When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away-even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.

— Stephen Koch

Incredibly, there are people-smart people-who think a prim disdain for drama is somehow a sign of "good taste." It is more often the reverse: a lamentable insensitivity to the essence of the art, a failure to "get it" on the most essential level. It is more often a sign not of good taste but of artistic insecurity. Not knowing how far to go, the writer goes nowhere. Lifelessness is not a form of elegance you should pursue.

— Stephen Koch

The way-the only way-to "find" your story is to tell it. Nobody in the whole world has ever before told the story you are about to tell. You yourself have never told it to anyone, not even to yourself. You may have lots of intuitions about what the story is going to be, and you may even have a sort of summary overview of it. These are good and useful things to have; they are fine places to start. They are not enough. Until you actually tell the story, the whole story, it will be nothing but smoke. Moreover, you probably will not tell the story exactly right the first time you try. You'll make wrong turns, use the wrong key, or use the right key in the wrong door. After all, you have nobody to guide you. If you are like most people, you will have to tell this story more than once-maybe even several times-before you really get it down.

— Stephen Koch

What really makes for readability is not clarity but attitude: the attitude of your prose toward out elusive friend the Reader and the role you invent for that invented being in your invented world.

— Stephen Koch

It is precisely in that relationship to the Reader that you will find most of the classic faults of style: pretension, condescension, servility, obscurantism, grandiosity, vulgarity, and the like
even academicism. That's why most faults of style can be described in language relevant to human relations. Is your style frank and open ... does it have some understated agenda ... is it out to prove something it does not or cannot admit ... is it trying to impress ... show off ... is it kissing up ... groveling ... maybe just a tad passive-aggressive, with a mumbling half-audible voice that is unwilling to explain ... is it trying to convince ... overwhelm ... help ... seduce ... give pleasure ... inflict pain ... There is no area of the writer's work that is more responsive to the psychology of human connection than style.

— Stephen Koch

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