Do you write as if you are talking to someone, not preaching, not teaching, not arguing, but rather having a conversation?
Do you treat that someone as if he or she is your equal, except that you have knowledge which your friend lacks? For example, do you write much like Elizabeth Bennett speaks to her sister, Jane, in Pride and Prejudice?
Do you simplify difficult concepts by making comparisons to everyday concepts, much like a teacher lining up a flashlight, an apple and a grape to explain an eclipse to children?
Is your meaning clear during the first read without a need to reread?
Do you let facts do the persuading, much like the charges against King George III did in the Declaration of Independence?
Is all the work of your writing hidden so that only the finished product shows, much like the elegant dinners at Downton Abby?
Do you exploit the natural structure of English sentences and paragraphs, putting the stress on the last word or phrase, much like Robert Frost in his poem, “The Road Not Taken.”
Are the facts which you present verifiable, much like a scientific experiment which can be replicated to achieve the same result, or like spectators who can be interviewed about what they saw and heard?
Do you use the perfect word or analogy, believing that with a bit of work you can find it?
Is your writing unpredictable, delighting with clever insights?
Is the structure of your writing inconspicuous, allowing the truth of your ideas to shine, much like the stitching of a beautiful garment?
Classical style is one of many writing styles (romantic, oratorical, and practical, among others). Its roots date to ancient Greece and to 17th century France. It has influenced American writers like Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain but has not dominated English writing the way it has dominated French writing.
If you want to know more abut the classic style, read Clear and Simple as the truth by F. Thomas and M. Turner, Princeton University Press, 1994. Most interesting is a section called “The Museum” which quotes varied sources to show what classical style is and is not.