Writing Better Essays - A Rhetorical Guide to Writing and Revision (Second International Edition) - David L. Rogers
David L. Rogers [+]
Kingston University, London
The Instructor’s Guide sets out the aims and premises of Writing Better Essays and offers recommendations for making the best use of the book, all of which are based on the author’s experience teaching its material. It also briefly summarizes the book’s chapters and the stages that make up the process of writing and revision that the book encourages: 1) a stage for potentially constructive procrastination, 2) an innovative adaptation of the traditional stage of freewriting that it refers to as research generated writing, 3) a stage in which students can enact any of a range of planning options, and 4) the second and final writing stage in which students are encouraged to write in a direct, immersive way, accepting the potential benefits of discovering new, unanticipated ideas as they allow themselves to deviate from their initial plans. The book’s process puts an unusually large emphasis on revision (an equally appropriate title for the book might well have been Revising for Better Essays). The first of its revision stages, stage 5) is the easiest to enact, involving as it does a simple cutting and pasting that enables students to create the basis for the final circular and reiterative structure the book, following classical rhetorical practice, encourages students to achieve for their final essays. Stage 6) requires students to incorporate strategies and techniques that are based upon principles of specification, explanation, and reiteration and which are explained, demonstrated, and illustrated in Chapter 2, the longest and most important chapter in the book, and the liberal use of meaningful connectives, which the book refers to as “bridging devices,” and which are the subject of Chapters 3-5. Stages 7) and 8) focus respectively on the interrogative strategies to help students develop effective thesis statements and on the addition of a stylish introduction, based on one of four classic rhetorical types and, following the advice of rhetoricians, written last. The final stages of revision 9) and 10) involve punctuation, for which the book takes a safety-first approach as it warns students away from using any punctuation other than periods (full stops) or question marks unless they are absolutely sure they know the rules, and then asks students to check on their spelling, the presence of overused words, and referencing conventions. The book complements its instruction throughout with the use of exercises related to each stage of its process. The exercises allow students to test their understanding and to practice accompanying strategies and techniques. Completed in sequence, the exercises enable students to develop a well-structured and coherent argumentative essay over a course, term, or semester. In association with its exercises, the book contains a large number of examples of good practice, all written by professional writers, models that exhibit qualities of style and coherence which students can try to emulate as they revise their essays. In some instances, most especially in Chapter 6, these models provide the basis for exercises in the traditional rhetorical practice of imitation. Representing a diverse group of writers from a large range of disciplines, they potentially allow WBE to serve as a course reader.