Another member of The Advocate Editorial Board recently sent me a trial court’s order directing the movant to file a new motion that concentrated on eliminating verbosity. While I’m sure the attorney who received this order (which included the judge’s redlined suggestions!) was humiliated, we shouldn’t wait for a judge’s invitation (or humiliation) to combat verbosity in our writing.
Instead, we should take every opportunity to write better sentences. Wordy sentences tend to be filled with poor constructions that break the readers’ concentration, forcing them to stop and decipher our meanings....
The principle to writing better sentences is simple: Legal writing is often about characters doing actions. So it makes sense to use a subject-verb-object construction instead of burying the actors and actions. To help you write better sentences that narrate the action, we will examine five tips for writing shorter sentences: active voice, concrete subjects, active predicates, parallel structure, and cleaning out clutter. [excerpt]
Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff, Five Tips to Combat Verbosity, 56(1) Advocate 48 (2013).