This is as good an article as any to highlight today. I don’t mean to sound so flip about the article. It is well written and has good information. It’s just an article about non-hoppy beer styles.
What do I like about this article? First, it has a simple premise: If someone says they don’t like beer maybe it is that they don’t like hoppy beers, so here are some other choices. The writer then goes through the list of all the malt heavy usual suspects breaking down their general flavor profiles to help a reader find something they like.
One of the things I ask when someone comes into the bar and says they don’t like beer is, “What about the beer you’ve drank do you not like?” Many craft beer drinkers do their non-craft friends a disservice when the first craft beer they have them try is a big IPA. Imagine that the most exotic beer you’ve ever tried is a Heineken and someone hands you a juicy east coast IPA that looks like a glass of orange juice and tastes like pine needles and freshly cut grass. That person may not react well.
Creating a simple premise is a key to writing a good piece like this. One of the things that annoys me about much of today’s entertainment (books, movies, television in this case) is that they are too high concept. They seek to ask too many complicated questions sometimes without answering them. That can be fun in a Lost kind of puzzle way. However, a good narrative is relatively simple: A character or group of characters is motivated to do something and the story is how do they do it.
By keeping the premise simple, you give yourself a much bigger field to play with as a storyteller. Battlestar Galactica had a simple premise: How does humanity move on after civilization is destroyed? Keeping the premise simple gave the creators a huge canvas to ask big philosophical questions and explore characters in depth.
Sometimes as writers because what we do seems inconsequential, so we try to increase our importance by overcomplicating what we do. I like this article because it doesn’t try to do that. Simplifying things and breaking things down to their essential parts is an important skill in writing as well as life.
That is one the things writing has taught me. When in doubt, simplify. Cut things back. Cut things out. Get back to the core of the idea that you are trying to express. That is why I think Hemingway became such an important writer to me. I like a lot of people avoided Hemingway because of his misogyny and false bravura in his guise as “Hemingway, the writer.” However, when you go back to the work, it is brilliant in its simplicity and ability to cut to the heart of a thing in as few words possible. It is the same with Raymond Carver.
A rule I try to follow is: say as much as you can with as few words possible.