Text Whisperer, with Ayn Rand


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The title, in case any of you don't know already, is a word play against the US cable TV show Dog Whisperer, with César Milan on the National Geographic Channel.

In the present case, I am referring to a rhetorical technique from Ayn Rand, which I found to be very helpful in live meetings (as well as on online fora). It is from her writing techniques course TAON, p. 124.

Substitute "reader" for "listener" and "shout" for "run on and on" to the excerpt below, and you'll get a whispered piece of advice from Ayn Rand:

When you understate something, the reader is aware of what you are saying; his own mind then supplies the rest, which is what you want. But when you overstate something, you deafen the reader. You do not give him time to come to his own conclusion. It is as if you were shouting at him. Observe that on stage while there are situations in which nothing can substitute for a scream, in most of the famous dramatic scenes, it is the whispered, simple sentence that gives you chills. When you overstate something, you disarm yourself. A man does not shout when he is sure of his case.
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