More on Verve:

I was revising an old draft, and came across this sentence:

The problems of yesterday will not recur in exactly the same way tomorrow, but they may recur in related ways.

Blecch; all those prepositional phrases, the needless abstraction and complexity of the “way”‘s, and even the slight fustiness of “recur” leach the life out of that sentence. A bit of work produced:

Tomorrow’s problems won’t be identical to yesterday’s; but they may be similar enough.

Not perfect, and I’m not sure how great a minor sentence like this can be. But better than the original, I think.

UPDATE: Several people suggested “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes,” attributed to Mark Twain; that quote is actually the very next sentence in my article. Why the repetition, you may ask? In academic work, I tend to try to stay literal, rather than figurative — and when there’s a great figurative phrase that captures things well, I try to express the matter clearly but literally first, and then say it figuratively. The downside of using both locutions is redundancy; the upside is precision and clarity, though I realize that the trade-off here is controversial.

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