I think a lot about writing. I’m fascinated by those who do it well, and I wanted to take a moment to capture a few of them here.
- Christopher Hitchens
I could, and often do, listen to Hitchens for hours. It both energizes and enhances me. His masterful formation and delivery of thought improves my thinking and my writing for some unspecified amount of time after experiencing it. It’s without peer.
Characteristics: Complex, Elaborate, Artful, Rhythmic
Example:: The Banana Republic
- Scott Adams
Adams has a style more fitted for blogging and making other types of short observations. He is the Jeet Kun Do to Hitchens’ Chinese Kung Fu. He hits with direct, clear sentences that rarely employ any complexity or vocabulary. And he wields rythym like a 40 lb. ball and chain weapon.
Characteristics: Simple, Concise, Rhythmic
Example: How Robots Will Take Over
My natural writing style shares more with Adams’ than Hitchens, but Adams is even more plain and concise in his writing than I am.
Hitchens is in another universe really. I worry it’s dangerous to even try to model one’s writing off of him. He violently ignores advice from Strunk, White, Williams, Columb, et al. when it comes to simplicity, and yet he is overwhelmingly successful in doing so.
It’s almost as if you should stick with the fundamentals (more like Adams and the authorities above) and then simply be pleasantly surprised if something beautiful like Hitchens’ work comes from it.
I’d be interested in talking to an expert on whether Hitchens followed or broke the rules of good writing, and whether he’s considered a genius or someone who used the force of flair and style to get away with over crimes against writing fundamentals.
Either way, when I think about improving my writing, I think about these two styles primarily. I’d be interested in hearing if you think you know of other styles worth studying.
What’s your favorite?