Reading to Write Texts That Work

Reading to Write Texts That Work

To learn the conventions of a particular genre, you need to read examples of that genre so that you begin to recognize its predictable patterns as well as the possibili- ties for innovation. At the same time, you should also practice writing in the genre.

Read, read, read. . . . Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! — WILLIAM FAULKNER

The Guide provides an array of sample essays in the genres you are learning to write and helps you analyze patterns in these essays. It also helps you practice using these patterns in your own writing to achieve your own purposes. Seeing, for example, how writers define key terms and integrate quotations from their sources in an essay explaining a concept introduces you to strategies you may use when you write in this genre.

I practiced writing in every possible way that I could. I wrote a pastiche of other people. Just as a pianist runs his scales for ten years before he gives his concert: because when he gives that concert, he can’t be thinking of his fingering or of his hands, he has to be thinking of his interpretation. He’s thinking of what he’s trying to communicate. — KATHERINE ANNE PORTER

I went back to the good nature books that I had read. And I analyzed them. I wrote outlines of whole books — outlines of chapters — so that


I could see their structure. And I copied down their transitional sen- tences or their main sentences or their closing sentences or their lead sentences. — ANNIE DILLARD

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