Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to improve writing (no. 42)

The words that began episodes of The Paper Chase, as spoken by Professor Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. (John Houseman):

“The study of law is something new and unfamiliar to most of you — unlike any other schooling that you have ever known before.”
Something new = new. New = unfamiliar. Any other schooling = any schooling. Ever known before = known. Like they say, omit needless words. Thus:
“The study of law is new to most of you — unlike any schooling you have known.”
I’m not sure whether removing the curlicues makes the statement more Kingsfieldian, or less so. What do you think? Yes, Mr. Hart?

Related reading
All How to improve writing posts (Pinboard)

[Why “most of you“? Perhaps some of the students have previously tried law school, left, and returned. This post is no. 42 in a series, “How to improve writing,” dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

comments: 1

The Arthurian said...

Oh, the short form offers a definite improvement in clarity and directness.

"Words dilute meaning."