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Home News by Category Interviews Quack This Way - Advice on Arguing Persuasively

Quack This Way - Advice on Arguing Persuasively

Bryan A. Garner has posted an excerpt from his excellent interview with David Foster Wallace, Quack This Way, over at ABA Journal, David Foster Wallace’s advice on arguing persuasively:

Garner: A lot of lawyers say to me they’re writing for judges who themselves don’t write very well, who write a lot of jargon-laden stuff, so they think the best expressive tactic is to mimic the style of the judges for whom they are writing. Does that make sense to you?

Wallace: This gets very tricky. The same thing happens in academia. When students enter my classes, very often what I end up doing is beating out of them habits they were rewarded for in high school—many of them having to do with excessive abstraction, wordiness, overcomplication, excessive reliance on jargon, especially in literary criticism.

But it gets tricky because they will point out that some of the other professors in the department appear to expect this kind of writing. It’s the sort of prose in which their syllabus and handouts are written. So to a certain extent, it’s tricky. What I say to these students is: “Between you and me, different people have different levels of skill at writing.”

Keep reading the excerpt here at ABA Journal.

Quack This Way at




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