Bryan Garner on Words

48 ABA Journal articles on Bryan Garner on Words.

George Campbell on eloquence, analogies and how to handle a hostile audience
"Eloquence is the art or talent by which the discourse is adapted to its end. All the ends of speaking are reducible to four: every speech being intended to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions, or to influence the will."
Writing vs. Good Writing: Make the languorous doldrums of reading disappear
“All styles are good,” Voltaire said, “except that which bores.” The good writer, in other words, frets a little about piquing the reader’s interest sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph—never descending into unremittingly dull stretches. The French even have a word for those dull stretches: longueurs.
How to start a sentence
Many writers mistakenly think it’s the beginning: They begin a disproportionate number of sentences with the grammatical subject, and they rarely depart from the subject-verb-object pattern. Boring legal writers create paragraphs of sentence after sentence beginning with a client’s or litigant’s name; interesting writers, by contrast, spice their prose with syntactic variety.
Of lists and tabs: Transforming transactional drafts to make sense
What's the single most important sentence-level reform in transactional drafting? It’s a seemingly simple idea that would require massive retraining of lawyers. Here’s the proposition: With few exceptions, every list in a contract or other transactional instrument should be set off and indented (with a hanging indent, mind you).
Eye for Errors: Test your skills at editorial triage
Take the Editor’s Quiz: Give these briefs a minimalist edit—confining yourself to outright errors. In each sentence that follows, find one or more glaring errors and one or more venial errors.
Garner: Pro Tips on Speech Prep
You’ve been asked to give a speech. If you’re well-versed in the subject, you may think you can wing it. Don’t try.
How architecture affects communication during meetings

Design decisions subliminally influence people’s experience at work—even their job satisfaction. The relative success or failure of meetings, whether with clients, colleagues or outside speakers, depends in part on how the space makes people feel.

Learn the fundamentals of writing first—experiment later

It’s often said that you must know the rules before you break them. But why is that, exactly?

The Principle of End Weight: Creating sentences with emphasis

Let’s investigate a little-known secret of style.

Quick: What’s the most emphatic part of a sentence? Many legal writers don’t know, and this explains why many are so poor at phrasing.

How to write powerful closers

If, in persuasive writing, your opening words must arouse your reader’s attention, your closing words must somehow prompt your reader to act.

Make motions more powerful by writing openers that focus on ‘deep issues’
An effective opener involves stating the problem to be solved. After all, what is a motion? It’s a request to resolve a specific problem by entering a specific order.
Going Deep

What’s the most important part of a motion or brief? The judges I’ve interviewed over the years give various responses to the question, but what I most often hear is this: a precise description of the questions presented in the case or the statement of the issues.

How life lessons from a legendary golf instructor can improve lawyers’ litigation scores

Years ago when I was playing competitive golf in junior tournaments throughout Texas and Oklahoma, my coach was the great Harvey Penick of Austin, Texas. He was the gentlest imaginable coach, always saying, “Why don’t you try this?” or “Why don’t you try that?”

Bryan Garner mourns the lost art of reviewing books
Once upon a time, bar journals and law reviews typically devoted many pages to book reviews. Now they’re a rarity for three primary reasons.
The Question of Voice: How to bring a more conversational style to your writing
When editing most lawyers’ work, I have little regard for the writer’s voice because most lawyers haven’t cultivated a discernible voice. What all legal writers should strive for is to be the voice of reason.

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