MSCD5: Don’t Equate the Author with Their Work

I’ve been wading through the page proofs of MSCD5. I’m devoting more time to this part of the process than I have with previous editions. I’ve even spotted a few glitches that had slipped into the fourth edition. So things are looking good for MSCD5.

But I’ve found myself assessing how I relate to my work. I’m intimately familiar with parts of the book, but I’d have a hard time telling you about much of it in any detail. Heck, I’d forgotten about some topics it covers. I suggest that’s a function of writing prolifically about a highly technical subject for more than 20 years. Beyond the 2,500 blog posts and dozens of articles, there’s the sheer bulk of MSCD5—around 670 pages, with no padding.

Time and again, I take a topic, consider it from the perspective of some combination of the law, dealmaking, English usage, and linguistics, and something plops off the production line. Periodically, I revisit it for fine-tuning or perhaps a complete overhaul. But it’s not conceivable that I should internalize all the details of my work, any more than an engineer would memorize blueprints.

So when I want to remind myself of a given topic, I do what y’all do: consult A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.

That might sound kind of pathetic. You might ask, What good are you then! Well, I’m a grab bag of skills that allow me to make sense of what you say in a contract and how you say it. It’s for the best that I move from topic to topic, working my alchemy, turning dross into, well, not gold, but something better. In my line of work, the challenge isn’t memory, it’s processing power.

And as a sideline, I’m also in a good position to introduce you to my approach to contract language. Hence my Drafting Clearer Contracts presentations and my online course Drafting Clearer Contracts: Masterclass.

Now the question is what I focus on, given that, for the time being, I’ve gone about as far as I can go with A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.

(For all my posts about the fifth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, go here.)

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

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