I’ve been a fan of Michael Crichton for a unique reason – I was one of about 10 students who took a writing seminar he taught at MIT in Spring, 1988. I think the class was named “The Art of Revision”.
His assignments were brief – write directions, describe your bedroom. He graded by recording himself reading your assignment aloud with real-time commentary, which he handed back on cassette (this was the pre-iPod era).
What I learned can be summed up as:
Don’t repeat yourself. Say things once. Don’t repeat yourself.
He taught to use only one adjective at a time (write “an inspiring film” not “a
touching and inspiring film”). Also, adverbs tend to be really worthless.
I asked him what he was writing at the time (this was before Jurassic Park was published). He said a book on his travel experiences. I nodded and said “how interesting”, and in my mind thought “how uninteresting”.
Years later I spotted the book “Travels” in an airport. It’s more of an autobiography composed of episodic essays. He had incredible experiences.
Reading it changed my life. It’s the book I cite when people ask me what book had the biggest impact on me.