Moses and Forceful Prose

Dallas, Texas – Peter Smythe © 2019

Dallas, Texas – Peter Smythe © 2019

In his book, Plain English for Lawyers, Richard Wydick says that we should write in concrete terms, not abstractions, to grip and move the reader's mind. He creates a comparison with the Exodus account of Moses inflicting a plague on Egypt:

He lifted up the rod and smote the waters of the river . . . and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that were in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

His lawyerized version:

The water was impacted by his rod, whereupon a polluting effect was achieved. The consequent toxification reduced the conditions necessary for the sustenance of the indigenous population of aquatic vertebrates below the level of viability. Olfactory discomfort standards were substantially exceeded, and potability declined. Social, economic, and political disorientation were experienced to an unprecedented degree.

Good thing that Moses wasn't a lawyer; the Israelites would never have made it out of Egypt.