These questions demand a set of skills I’ve not found elsewhere: careful reading followed by deep thought not just about what the writer wrote but about the devices the writer used in the essay.These are hard questions for many young students, quite gifted ones included.Essays by Russell Baker, Eudora Welty, Helen Keller, Annie Dillard, Natalie Goldberg, and many others illustrate the chapter’s lesson.
(I’ve never seen the urgency in having the newest edition of a writing text anyway.) There is little difference between these two editions, so I’ll not be drawing distinctions between them. The first three (The Writing Process, The Elements of the Essay, and The Language of the Essay) focus on just what an essay is and how it is put together.
The first section covers the basics of all writing, from prewriting through first draft to revising and editing.
It’s an effective review for students who’ve done projects requiring prereading, not a guide for the first-time writer.
The second section does much of what MCT’s Essay Voyage does — it addresses what writers must master to make any essay work: thesis, unity, organization, beginnings and endings, paragraphs, transitions, and effective sentences.
Even organic writers (not the sort grown without pesticides but the kind who were born with stories to tell and a keyboard attached to their fingers) struggle when it’s time to talk about elements of writing within another’s writing.
Initially, I used the book without those questions, assigning the readings as examples.This reinforces the essential techniques and parts of the essay while providing context for using that skill while writing. It’s essays are highly engaging and carefully chosen to illustrate the point at hand.Its assignments for essay types are varied and can easily be expanded upon.(Note: The division into types helps teach techniques that might be hard to sort out otherwise. A comparison and contrast piece may have highly descriptive passages, for example.) This book could certainly be used start to finish for a writer less familiar with the form.I generally assign material from the first three sections as needed with my more experienced writers, combining, say, the chapter on introductions and conclusions with the chapter on definition writing. It’s approach to technique is straightforward and logical.I’d not call this last section sufficient for teaching the process of writing from sources, but it does serve a fine introduction to the craft.It touches what comes next, just as the first section provides a short look back.A few are amenable to using one-on-one, but most require a partner or small group.The suggested writing assignments that follow each essay are far more helpful.For all but the first section of the book, the format is the same.Rosa and Eschholz provide a few pages of instruction on the topic at hand.