De Oratore

Lesson 96 Chapter 2 Module 9

While this course mostly focuses on the writing aspect of words and language, I’ve recommended a few times, in writing tips and various comments, to consider reading your writing out loud as a means of checking the grammar and errors.

But reading out loud, and learning how to translate your speaking voice into your writing voice is a fantastic hack for figuring out what your writing voice actually will be.

One of the most fantastic compliments I can receive from readers is when they meet me “in real life,” and they are often surprised about how NOT surprised they are to talk with me. “You’re exactly how I imagined you’d be” is often the response, which usually means they get a conversation with me that is exactly like reading my writing online.

It helps for your own voice, authenticity, and writing when people are able to say something similar about you.

Today’s lesson, De Oratore (often translated to “On The Ideal Orator”) is a study in the mechanics and processes that the ancients should follow to become a speaker who could rally throngs of people around them. Cicero believed in the power of persuasion, especially persuasion in the form of well-formed speeches and narratives.

In this excerpt, Cicero observes Lucius Licinius Crassus teaching on the daily exercises and rhetoric he has followed to become such an admired and revered orator. He starts his diatribe by noting to his audience, “Writing is said to be the best and most excellent modeller and teacher of oratory.”

If you are swimming in the text today you aren’t alone! Read it as if someone were speaking it directly to you, because it’s the dictation of a speech. That’s how some of the earliest master writers “got their start”, in fact. By copying word for word exactly what master orators said, to get a better understanding of compelling language and sharing brilliant ideas.

If you are really struggling, maybe try reading it out loud. It might feel silly, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much easier it becomes to learn from.

And it will show you how much speaking the words that are written really can add to an experience, and help you to understand the piece more. It is also (I’m assuming) why audiobooks continue growing popularity. Aside from convenience, we like hearing stories read to us. We like the verbal nuances of writing as much as the writing itself.

It’s something to think about, as you write. How speakable is the language and flow?

If it isn’t easily speakable, it might be even harder to process and comprehend when reading it silently.

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