…According to Grammar Experts and the Lawyer My Father Hired to Represent Me
- “You know what I mean?”
Never ask your reader for the confidence you should supply yourself.
- “I think …”
Strong communication is built on bold assertions. Cut every instance of this weasel phrase.
- “Maybe we should …”
If you believe in a course of action, say so with no conditions.
- “Forgive me.”
The innocent have no need for absolution.
- “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Never directly acknowledge the incident.
- “Nobody deserves to die in such a terrible manner.”
“Terrible” is an editorialization—avoid it. Also, see number 5.
- “For what it’s worth …”
Your words determine their own worth. Let them.
- “It was just a terrible yachting accident.”
Avoid allusions to class and privilege.
- “… if you know what I mean.”
A strong communicator assumes the listener’s understanding.
- “It was a youthful indiscretion, your honor, and one I must live with for the rest of my life.”
Jesus Christ. Hold it together.
- “I’m not sure, but …”
Another weasel phrase. Strike all instances.
- “No one would find out; father made sure of it. But I knew what I had done and I had to face the consequences.”
Never incriminate the family. Claim your confession was coerced.
- “Although my belief in God died that day, I murmur his name every night as I stare through the bars and drift to sleep. I pray for numbness, but as consciousness loosens its hold on my addled body, I feel the tightening grip of despair—the unrelenting crush of guilt as it churns through my subconscious, surfacing images I swore never to recall. And as the rising sun pries me from my nightmare, I know at last the awful truth: that if God exists, death is too sweet a mercy for him to grant me.”
Focus on how religion has made you a better person.
- “Does that make sense?”
See number 9.
- “Guilty, your honor.”
A nonstarter. Consider a plea deal or force a mistrial. ❏
Tyler Clair Smith writes screenplays and dumb tweets.