n+1: King of the Ghosts

by Scott Smith

His principle of empathy governed all that he taught us, even when he taught with tough love. Make your comments maximally helpful. Never sacrifice clarity. Don’t make the reader work unnecessarily—parse unnecessary clauses, wade through unnecessary data. He wrote on the syllabus that the purpose of good writing wasn’t self-expression, “or whatever your teacher told you in high school,” but communication, meaningful communication between two human beings. He taught with the empathy he preached, about everything from our grammar to our values to our personal lives.