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Encouraging writers to think logically and communicate clearly, this practical and comprehensive book presents writing and grammar in an organized and appealing way, with myriad examples and exercises to support concepts and hone skills. KEY TOPICS Using a structured yet flexible approach, it systematically covers all the steps of the writing process; explores strategies for creating topic sentences and writing paragraphs (with a sample paragraph shown in its progress from idea to finished essay); and shares nine different methods of development with model paragraphs. It presents a separate “mix and match” grammar section with minimal jargon, maximum clarity, and a wealth of exercises, and a selection of short, entertaining readings–complete with reading comprehension questions and writing assignments–that introduces students to the connection between reading and writing.
For individuals who want to improve their written communication skills.
PART 1. COMPOSITION.
1. The Writing Process.
2. Preparing to Write.
3. Writing Paragraphs: Topic Sentences.
4. Writing Paragraphs: Support.
5. Writing Paragraphs: Unity and Coherence.
6. Revising, Proofreading, and Formatting.
7. Showing and Telling: Description, Narration and Example.
8. Limiting and Ordering: Definition, Classification, and Process.
9. Examining Logical Connections: Comparison-Contrast, Cause-Effect and Argument.
10. Writing an Essay.
11. Writing Summary Reports.
PART 2. GRAMMAR.
12. Verbs and Subjects.
13. Subject-Verb Agreement.
14. Verb Shift.
15. Sentence Variety.
16. Run-on Sentences.
17. Sentence Fragments.
18. Pronoun Case.
19. Pronoun Agreement, Reference, and Point of View.
20. Adjectives, Adverbs, and Articles.
21. Capital Letters.
22. Words Commonly Confused.
23. Word Choice.
25. Other Punctuation.
27. Quotation Marks.
PART 3. READINGS.
For the convenience of instructors, the new Instructor's Edition provides answers to exercises as an integral part of the text. The back pages of the Instructor's Edition contain icebreaker activities, suggestions on using the chapters and readings, an examination of grading issues, and model syllabi for ten-week and fifteen-week courses.
Thank you for choosing Wordsmith: A Guide to Paragraphs and Short Essays, Second Edition, as your textbook.
Like you, I am a teacher of writing. Like you, I struggle to find the best way to teach a subject that, on its surface, seems as simple as touching pen to paper. Yet writing is remarkably complex, incorporating the personality and experience of each writer and each reader. It requires adherence to agreed-upon rules of grammar, punctuation, and form. It is, in fact, a craft that might be best taught to a small group of students in a series of unhurried sessions and individual conferences over an extended period of time. But our reality is the fifty-minute hour, the class of twenty or more, the term that is measured in weeks. How best to handle that reality?
Most of us constantly refine our teaching methods, striving to make difficult concepts clear and tedious details interesting. Most of all, we try to ignite the spark that will help our students see writing as a meaningful, life-enriching activity. A good textbook should reinforce our efforts. I have spent considerable time trying to analyze what a good textbook should do, above and beyond presenting information in a given field. Here is what I have come up with: The book should be orderly and user-friendly, with a flexible format. Explanations should be clear and supported by numerous exercises and examples. The book should contain much more than is strictly necessary: it should be a smorgasbord, not just a meal. Finally, if it includes a little bit of fun, so much the better--for us and for our students. I have written Wordsmith with those principles in mind.
Although each of you will use the book in a different way and adapt it to your own students' needs, the following overview of each section may give you some ideas. For more ideas and for sample ten- and fifteen-week syllabi, check the Instructor's Guide in the back of the book.
Part 1, Composition, takes the paragraph as its primary focus but provides an extensive chapter (Chapter 10) on the five-paragraph essay and a chapter (Chapter 11) on the summary report. Include or omit these chapters, as you prefer. The book begins with an overview of the writing process (Chapter 1), followed by a chapter on prewriting (Chapter 2). Planning and drafting, the next two steps in the writing process, are addressed in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. Chapter 6 addresses revising and proofreading.
Chapters 7, 8, and 9 address methods of development. I have sacrificed some flexibility by grouping the methods, so let me explain why. The first reason is philosophical. I believe it is more realistic to group the modes, since they are seldom used in isolation in "real-world" writing. Modes with a similar purpose are grouped together, and the optional "Mixed Methods" assignments at the end of the chapter show how the modes can be used together in a single piece of writing. The second reason for grouping modes is more practical. No matter how hard I try, I can never cover nine rhetorical modes in one term. Grouping them allows me to assign a chapter containing three modes and address only one or two in depth. If all three rhetorical modes chapters are assigned, students are exposed to all nine modes even if they practice only a few.
Part 2, Grammar, can be used in a variety of ways: with direct, in-class instruction, in a lab setting, as a supplement, or for independent study. Part 2, Grammar, also works well for instructors who want to address more difficult grammar topics in class while assigning easier material or review material for independent study.
In the grammar chapters, explanations are clear and each topic is taken one skill at a time, with numerous practice exercises for each skill. At the end of each chapter are review exercises in increasing order of difficulty, ending with a paragraph-length editing exercise.
Part 3, Readings offers essays by professional writers. In any craft, the works of accomplished artisans can inspire the apprentice. These essays model writing at its best: entertaining, challenging, and thoughtprovoking. Each reading is followed by a comprehension exercise that includes questions about content, questions about the writer's techniques, and related topics for discussion and writing. Diversity in authorship, subject matter, and rhetorical method is emphasized.
Outside the classroom window, two students pass by, laughing and clutching graduation robes packaged in plastic bags. But inside, the atmosphere is tense as the professor passes out term papers. These papers count as one-third of the course grade.
The professor sweeps by and drops a paper on the desk of Carl, who sits next to you. Carl opens his paper, then rubs his temples as if he has a sudden headache. You shoot him a questioning look. He unfolds his paper, and you see the large red F and the scrawled words. "Your writing skills are unacceptable!" You think of graduation, and realize that Carl will probably not march.
The professor sweeps by again, this time dropping a paper on your desk. Holding your breath, you open it and look at your grade.
Writing is not the only skill you need in college, but it's one of the more important ones. In the classroom and beyond, the people who do well are most often those who think logically, who consider all the possibilities, and who communicate clearly. Writing can help you develop those skills.
In the college classroom, those who stand out also tend to be good writers. They write clearly, they state their ideas completely, and they don't embarrass themselves with poor grammar or misspelled words.
Perhaps, like most people, you feel like there's room for improvement in your writing skills. Maybe you feel that your grammar is not up to par, or you're just never sure where to put commas. Or perhaps you go blank when you see an empty page in front of you, waiting to be filled.
But there's good news. Whether your writing needs a little help or a lot, you can be a better writer. Writing is not a talent bestowed by fate, it is a skill, like driving a car, playing a guitar, or designing a Web page on the computer. It is built through your own hard work and improved by practice.
How can you become a better writer? You're in the right place, enrolled in a writing course, and you are holding the right object in your hand--this textbook. But the real key is not the course, the textbook, or even your instructor. The key is you. If you take guitar lessons but never practice, how well will you play? Or think of weight training--if you buy a book about it but never exercise your muscles, how much change will occur? You have a book on writing and a "personal trainer"--your instructor--ready to help you, so exercise your writing muscles as much as possible. If you work at it, you will amaze yourself.
There's no time like the present to shape your future.
Wordsmith: A Guide to Paragraphs and Short Essays, Second Edition, is designed to help you on your journey to becoming the writer you want to be, the writer your future demands. Read on to find out how each section can help you develop your writing skills.
Part 1, Composition, gives you an overview of the writing process and provides step-by-step instructions for writing a paragraph, the basic building block for any longer piece of writing. Part 1 also presents nine methods of paragraph development: description, narration, example, definition, classification, process, comparison-contrast, cause-effect, and argument. Finally, it introduces the essay, perhaps the most flexible and adaptable form of writing that you will ever learn. Shrunk down a bit, it can be used to answer a question on an essay test. Expanded a bit, it can be used to write a research paper, a term paper, or even a master's thesis.
Part 2, Grammar, provides wide coverage of grammar and punctuation. Some of the concepts covered are probably review for you while others are new. The chapters are user-friendly and take a step-by-step approach, so that you can work with them in class or on your own.
Feel free to use the chapters in this section as a reference. If you aren't sure of a comma rule, look it up. If you aren't sure of your subject-verb agreement, check it out in the chapter entitled "Subject-Verb Agreement." You will gain knowledge as you improve your writing.
You can also use the chapters as a way to improve your grammar. If your instructor marks several sentence fragments on your paper, don't wait until the topic is covered in class. Work through the chapter on sentence fragments on your own so that you can correct the problem now.
Part 3, Readings, contains readings from professional writers. You will notice differences between the journalistic writing of these professionals and the academic form you are encouraged to use. Topic sentences are not always placed at the beginning of each paragraph. The language is often informal. But these are merely differences of audience-writing in the academic world is expected to be more formal than journalistic essays written for a general audience. You will see similarities, too. The essays have the same qualities you are encouraged to incorporate in your paragraphs: direction, unity, coherence, and support.
Good readers make good writers. The more you read, the better your writing will become.
Writing is hard work. But it is also worthwhile. The more you write, the more skilled you become. Whatever your major, whatever your vocation, writing will serve you well. May this book mark just the beginning of your journey as a writer.