Using the Guides to Writing

Using the Guides to Writing

As you have seen, students learning to write need to be flexible and yet systematic. The Guides to Writing in Part One of this book are designed to meet this need. The first few times you write in a new genre, you can rely on these guides. They provide scaffolding to support your work until you become more familiar with the demands and possibilities of each genre. The Guides will help you develop a reper- toire of strategies for creatively solving problems in your writing, such as deciding how to interest readers, how to refute opposing arguments, what to quote from a source, and how to integrate quotations into your writing.

When people engage in any new and complex activity — driving, playing an instrument, skiing, or writing — they may divide it into a series of manageable tasks. In learning to play tennis, for example, you might concentrate separately on lobbing, volleying, or serving, before putting your skills together in a game. Similarly, in writing an argument on a controversial issue, you can focus at first on separate tasks such as defining the issue, developing your reasons, and anticipating readers’ objections. Dividing your writing in this way enables you to tackle a com- plex subject without either oversimplifying it or becoming overwhelmed.


Here is a writer’s quotation that has been especially helpful for us as we have written and revised The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing :

You know when you think about writing a book, you think it is over- whelming. But, actually, you break it down into tiny little tasks any moron could do. — ANNIE DILLARD

Reflection 5. Your Last Writing Project

Write a couple of pages describing how you went about writing the last time you wrote an essay (or something else) that took time and effort. Use the following questions to help you recall what you did, but feel free to write about any other aspects of your writ- ing that you think are important.

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