Is Dave Higgins An Intellectual Snob?

Dave Higgins in a Topper
[E]xpected readers to be interested
©Dave Higgins CC BY NC SA

Yesterday The Looking Glass published Dave Higgins’ article, William And Harry To Die This Year, According to Shakespeare. But our sources reveal Higgins’ original article was filled with language more fitting to a highbrow soireé than a newspaper.

According to Dave Higgins, “The first draft was laden with sub-clauses, words with more than two syllables, and nuanced commentary. I have known myself for all of my life, and shocked to see how I much expected readers to be interested in details and form their own opinions.” Dave went on to reveal this is not the first time he has offered people intelligent commentary.

Reviewing the articles published on Davetopia a clear pattern emerges: Higgins does not usually write for people who want to be entertained while operating heavy machinery.

Although none of the other sites Higgins has written for have commented on these allegations, the differences in style strongly suggest Higgins might be working with editors.

Isolated mistake or sign of intellectual snobbery, one thing seems clear: with Higgins showing no sign of stopping writing, there will be further complex clause structure ahead.

Or, to put it in my more usual voice, the editorial comments on the first draft of the article levelled the entirely valid critique that it read more like it was written for the Sunday supplement of a British broadsheet than the front page of a popular newspaper. As might not be entirely unexpected, this was addressed by a productive dialogue with an editor.

The first section of this post is deliberately hyperbolic; however, the suggestion at the heart of it is fair: years of public school education, two law degrees, and many years of legal practice have rendered my natural style more interested in accuracy than brevity, more discursive than direct. So I do struggle to write in a journalistic style without sounding like parody.

Fortunately, as with other forms of writing, journalism is a fusion of writer and editor, not a lone act. And each attempt adds to my understanding of how a message may be compressed with least risk to its truths.

If you are interested in how different the style of the first draft was, a version is on the Fauxpocalypse site. Apart from a few corrections to spelling and grammar, it is substantially unchanged from the original.

Do you have difficulty writing in certain styles? Do you avoid these areas, or work harder to master the style?


5 thoughts on “Is Dave Higgins An Intellectual Snob?

  1. I have a hard time writing in a casual yet intelligent voice. When I try to write a well thought out review, it comes off as a stiff and humorless analysis. But if I focus more an enjoyable, conversational tone, it seems to me to lack authority.


    1. Conveying authority is tricky; it only really comes when you have moved from knowing you have a right to your opinion, through believing you have a right, into not consciously thinking you have a right.

      The downside of such unconscious competence, is you can sometimes under-represent your own lack of certainty to others.


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