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On(ward) Harry Evans or Write On

  • Wayne Greenwald, P.C.
  • Published: September 27, 2018
On(ward) Harry Evans or Write On

Kudos to Time magazine for its article on Sir Harry Evans restating the need for clarity in communicating and communications. Sir Harry wrote Do I Make Myself Clear which offers ten rules for writing[1], expounding on the rules with each chapter.

In my experience as a lawyer, a rule is stated. Its vagaries produce discussion through its application. When the rule maker explains the reasons for the rule’s creation, a well-written rule does not require discussion. However, the rule’s unanticipated applications could produce discussion.

Most of my writings’ audiences are judges. They don’t wait excitedly for my next brief or affidavit. They’d probably be happier reading something other than my case but they have to read what I submit. This is likely true for anyone who does not read for fun: teachers, bosses, students, or even clients.

If you know your audience, write to their needs and remember that their patience is limited. If you’re writing for yourself, say what you want — it’s therapy.

My rule for writing is the same as my rule for life: Hillel the Elder’s, “what is hateful to you, don’t do to another.” For writing, the rule translates to: “If you’d have problems reading or understanding your text, don’t subject someone else to it.”

Pretty simple but applying it is work. Good luck!

[1] Hemingway had five rules. Orwell had six.

Wayne Greenwald, P.C.

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