By On Oct 08, 2018 Form Templates
If you are writing a research memo, put the question, the answer and the reason up front. Dont delay the conclusion until the end, as unthinking writers do, naively assuming that the reader will slog all the way through the memo as if it were a mystery novel. And never open with a full-blown statement of facts—despite what you may have learned elsewhere. Why? Because facts are useless to a reader who doesnt yet understand what the issue is. Instead, integrate a few key facts into your issue statement.
The late Judge David Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was a stickler for super-tight prose. Once, when his student clerk, Eugene Gelernter (now a New York City litigator), brought him a draft opinion, the great judge said: "Nice draft, Gene. Now go back and read it again. Take out every paragraph you dont need, then every sentence you dont need. Then go back and take out every word you dont need. Then, when you are done with that, go back and start the whole process all over again." We should all have such a mentor.
If you ever find yourself getting sick of looking at your work product and starting to do something rash such as throwing your hands up and just turning it in at that moment, pull yourself up short. Give it a good dramatic reading. Out loud. You will still find some slips and rough patches—and you will be glad you did. Better that you find the problems than your readers do. Learn the lesson that mutilating and reworking your own first drafts actually builds your ego as a writer and editor.
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