Originally Posted by L'Incandescent
I agree completely with this. When I teach my students to write, I always tell them to jump right into the content. Of course I'm teaching them to write philosophy papers, which are different from other forms. But still, those set-ups are tedious and annoying.
There's a lawyer/law teacher/writer named Jim McElheny who for years wrote a famous (in a big fish, small pond kind of way) column on the rules governing courtroom evidence, which is a relatively hidebound and persnickety area of law. He employed a variant of this technique, although he'd sustain the fictional construct through the entire piece. It worked well, both because of his skill as a writer and (I believe) because the subject matter and didactic intent of the articles lent themselves to it well.
Unfortunately, though, generations of lawyers and law students who read McElheny's columns thought to themselves, "Wow, that's great. I should start writing like that, too!"
It's a bit like watching Olympic ski jumpers and deciding, "Cool, I'm going to go do that this weekend!" (Yes, I recently watched the Eddie the Eagle movie.) Except in this case the pain associated with lack of skill and poor technique is externalized to the readership.