25 Comments

This is very good.

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author

Thank you!

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Apr 15Liked by Henry Oliver

I really enjoyed this piece, thank you! Writing for a reader is so simple…and yet so difficult!

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author

So difficult!

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May 15Liked by Henry Oliver

Great piece! I wish there were more nuanced appreciations of prose, like this one.

I suppose you’ve read “Clear and Simple as the Truth”? You echo many of its points on the deceptive assumptions lurking in the plain style.

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Beautiful, a writer analysed without losing the essence of his work.

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author

Ah I’m glad!

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May 17Liked by Henry Oliver

The way Graham ends on the longest phrase in the tricolon is a nice example of Behaghel's Gesetz der wachsenden Glieder (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behaghel%27s_laws)

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As a novice writer I find this very insightful. It helps me understand things that I feel but cannot explain. Thank you!

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author

Very glad to hear it! Thank you

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Thanks for this style review! Writing styles interest me a lot. His style isn't for me personally because I prefer a more efficient approach. That being said, I appreciate the plain language he uses. I might be in the minority here though.

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Wow this was just excellent, Oliver. Thank you for sharing it. I'm a huge fan of Paul Graham's writing - both content and style. And this was a masterclass in applying "Elements of Eloquence" directly onto his work.

A must read for all serious writers on Substack!

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"Instead, Graham writes like he speaks in the same sense that a play or film is realistic."

This is what I aim for with my writing - when someone is reading it I want it to feel like I am speaking to them. Whether it is explaining scientific content or more philosophical / personal stuff. It's difficult to achieve and undo all the formal writing style I was taught in academia, but post by post I feel like I am getting closer :)

Thank you for a good read, Henry!

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Apr 16Liked by Henry Oliver

Kudos! Fascinating read. You do indeed write very well. Thanks for showing us style.

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author

Thanks!

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A first-rate piece on a worthy topic. Thanks for breaking this down. I just finished Robertson Davies Fifth Business. There is much talk of "the plain style" among the characters.

Exactly how writers develop their style is an interesting topic. Some absorb it though reading. Others do carry out conceited exercises. I remember Somerset Maugham would hand-copy writing he admired.

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Thank you! I’ll have to read that, sounds interesting. I suspect that most of them do practice, whether they admit it or not. Graham at least seems to have strong taste that he emulates however non methodically

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Writers writing about writing is an entertaining genre, as I'm sure you know. Though ot can quickly become insufferable. For my money, Maugham's "Summing Up" and Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" are as good as it gets.

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Auden describing his self made apprenticeship also

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Excellent piece!

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Thanks!

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Fantastic essay. I am enjoying your writing and looking forward to your book launch. This piece is so practical and so lyrical. I've made notes to try and apply some of these techniques to my own writing.

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Glad you liked it!

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Apr 15Liked by Henry Oliver

Agree with Ted. Very well done. Thanks Henry.

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Cheers!

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