Today Blawgletter can't resist giving credit for more than one quote to Douglas E. Abrams, who teaches law at the University of Missouri, the show-me state.

Professor Abrams's piece in the July issue of the Texas Bar Journal — What Great Writers Can Teach Lawyers and Judges — highlights such a Great Many pithy comments, on the hard but wondrous art of writing, that we feel sure you'd enjoy more than one or two. Here goes:

  • "Brevity is the soul of wit." William Shakespeare, speaking through Polonius, the prolix dunderhead who also says "very like a whale" in Hamlet and dies of a stabbing by Hamlet himself due to Polonius's unwise hiding in curtains during the golden age of Danish sword open-carry laws.
  • "The covers of this book are too far apart." Ambrose Bierce, in a book review that starts and ends with this sentence (and thus honors, briefly, Polonius).
  • "This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read." Winston Churchill, who here shows the power of using short words.
  • "The writer who breeds/ more words than he needs/ is making a chore/ for the reader who reads./ That's why my belief is/ the briefer the brief is,/ the greater the sigh/ of the reader's relief is." Theodor Geisel.


We'll get a second dose of advice from Dr. Abrams next month. We almost can't wait.