Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Craft of Writing

Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. 181 pp. ISBN: 978-0-393-924091.

This is a small book and easy to read. It is a gem of a book, however. No student wants to be without this book. The authors note, "Experienced writing instructors have long recognized that writing means entering into conversations with others" (ix). This point is emphasized throughout the book. You even see it in the title: They Say/I Say. The purpose of the book is "to demystify academic writing by isolating its basic moves, explaining them clearly, and representing them in the forms of templates" (ix). Graf and Birkenstein achieve their goals admirably. The prose is clear and intelligible. The templates are an added benefit to the book. They have templates for a variety of writing assignments. It is not an exhaustive book, but a very helpful tool for writing.

Both authors are professors of writing at the University Of Illinois at Chicago. The book is divided into three parts. The first part covers what others have said. The second part covers your part in entering the conversation. The third part brings it all together. The templates include: how to write what they say, how to write what you say, and how to tie it all together. The book include reading and examples of writing illustrated in the book.

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