Working at Writing: Columnists and Critics Composing

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A survey of the composing processes of seven working writers—columnist/ essayists Jim Fitzgerald and Kathleen Stocking, political columnists Tom Wicker and Richard Reeves, drama critic Walter Kerr, and film critics David Denby and Neal Gabler—Working at Writing offers rich and unique insights into how writing is actually done.

The book has three interlocking elements: edited transcripts of interviews with the writers about their composing processes and the composition of ...

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Overview

A survey of the composing processes of seven working writers—columnist/ essayists Jim Fitzgerald and Kathleen Stocking, political columnists Tom Wicker and Richard Reeves, drama critic Walter Kerr, and film critics David Denby and Neal Gabler—Working at Writing offers rich and unique insights into how writing is actually done.

The book has three interlocking elements: edited transcripts of interviews with the writers about their composing processes and the composition of specific works, copies of the works discussed in the transcripts, and a series of chapters that analyze the interviews and articles in the context of current research into composing. Through this unusual structure, Root investigates both the ways in which the working practices of the seven writers relate to one another and to current models of composing and the ways in which such a discussion will be of value to others, particularly to student writers and their teachers.

By considering the comments of practicing writers and the examples of their compositions and by comparing the evidence of research findings with those examples of practical experience, Root gives student writers—and their teachers as well—the opportunity to better understand the paradigms that govern their own composing and to confirm, modify, abandon, or replace them.

The final chapter discusses the implications of these professionals’ experience for those who hope to become working writers. Stressing the importance of "assiduous stringsaving," immersion in context, regular composition, the rhetorical situation, and the writer’s understanding of his or her own process, Root suggests both what separates the novice from the expert and how novices can apply the insights of this book as they work at their own writing.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Interviews with and analyses of the work of columnists/essayists Jim Fitzgerald and Kathleen Stocking, political columnists Tom Wicker and Richard Reeves, drama critic Walter Kerr, and film critics David Denby and Neal Gabler. These professionals discuss their writing habits in general and talk about certain specific works, which follow the interview. Root grounds his analyses of both the interviews and the articles in the principles of current composition theory. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809316861
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1991
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert L. Root, Jr., is professor of English at Central Michigan University and author of The Rhetorics of Popular Culture.

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