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Anthem Guide to Essay Writing


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216 Pages


A comprehensive guide to writing successful essays in any course, with step-by-step advice and plenty of examples.

The ‘Anthem Guide to Essay Writing’ is a comprehensive guide to writing successful essays in any course, with step-by-step advice and plenty of examples. One of the greatest assets of this book is its insights into how essays are evaluated, so that writers can focus their efforts productively. It demonstrates each step of the writing process – from close reading and research to generating ideas, organizing thoughts, structuring a draft essay, and revising for clarity and eloquence. If you want to improve the quality of your essays, you will find clear, helpful advice in this easy-to-use guide.

Introduction; 1. Reading and Researching; 2. Generating Ideas; 3. Preparing to Write; 4. Structuring the Essay; 5. Getting Out the First Draft; 6. Revising; 7. Documenting Sources; 8. Developing Style; 9. An Overview of the Writing Process; Afterword and Recommended Reading; Appendix: Sample Essays; Index



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Published 01 June 2011
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EAN13 9780857284297
Language English
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Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2011 by ANTHEM PRESS 75-76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave. #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
Copyright © Carole L. Hamilton 2011
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hamilton, Carole L., 1951-Anthem guide to essay writing / Carole L. Hamilton.  p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-85728-975-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Essay–Authorship–Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. English language–Rhetoric– Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Title. II. Title: Guide to essay writing. PN4500.H25 2011 808.4–dc22  2011014784
ISBN-13: 978 0 85728 975 9 (Pbk) ISBN-10: 0 85728 975 6 (Pbk)
This title is also available as an eBook.
Introduction vii
1 Reading and Researching1 1.1 Annotating Texts 1 1.2 Taking Notes 4
2 Generating Ideas7 2.1 Introduction 7 2.2 For Literature Essays 8 2.3 For History and Other Social Science Essays 18 2.4 For Science Essays 23 2.5 For Essays on Visual Media 28 2.6 For Exam Essays 33
3 Preparing to Write37 3.1 Free-Writing 37 3.2 Organizing 40 3.3 Deriving a Thesis 49
4 Structuring the Essay57 4.1 Types of Essay 58  Persuasive 58, Definition 62, Comparison-Contrast 64, Cause-Effect 68, Explication 73, Reflective 76, Descriptive 78, Classification 81, Précis 83, Exam 86, Research 89
4.2 Introductions 93 4.3 Body Paragraphs 99 4.4 Conclusions 107
Getting Out the First Draft
7 Documenting Sources125 7.1 When and How to Cite Sources 125 7.2 Formatting Citations (MLA, APA, CMS, CSE)
8 Developing Style 8.1 Eloquence 143 8.2 Concision 149 8.3 Clarity 153
An Overview of the Writing Process
Afterword and Recommended Reading Appendix: Sample Essays 165 Index 203
How do writers find a state of mind where words flow and ideas are fully explored? In my classroom, I can observe the various ways in which my students achieve (or do not achieve) this state, thanks to a software product that displays their screens on my computer as they write. Without intruding on their concentration, I can watch how they work, which gives me a window into their writing state of mind. A mere ten minutes after beginning, one student has an outline open, plus a page of relevant quotations, and a half-written introduction on her screen. What she has written is not terribly exciting, but she is focused and working productively. Another student is flipping through her notes, a blank document open on her screen. Half an hour later, only one sentence has been written. On another screen, a phrase is deleted, rewritten, deleted, and written again. Each student has a different writing obstacle. One has not read carefully enough, one needs to organize better, one should have spent more time brainstorming ideas so that she could approach the task with more confidence. I will select an appropriate method to help each student find a more productive way to write.
If your experience mirrors my students’ difficulties in getting started, staying on task, or developing an essay that you are proud to turn in, you will find some useful suggestions in this book, though there is no need to adopt every one of them. You will find here guidelines for most kinds of essays and most classes, from secondary school through university classes, from history and English to politics and government and the natural sciences. I hope that my years of observing and guiding young writers has resulted in a handbook that will help you find your flow state of writing more easily, so you can write bold, eloquent essays with confidence and enjoyment.
Carole Hamilton, 2011
Thank you to those who contributed sample essays for this book: former students Amelia, Caleb, Cyndell, Haleigh, Haley, Lila, and Rim; my colleague E. Palmer Seeley; and my daughter, Aubrey Hamilton.
Annotating Texts
In old black-and-white films, the young newspaper writer tilts his hat off his forehead, puts a clean sheet of paper into a manual typewriter, and starts writing the lead article that will hit the front page the next day. The paragraphs flow from his razor-sharp mind straight to the paper, in a well ordered march of ideas. But, as they say, “life ain’t like the movies.” Nor is writing. A good essay doesn’t spring to the mind immediately, but evolves slowly, after hard thinking and planning. It starts with making keen observations of the material under study. That is why this book onwritingstarts with training your eye inreading. This chapter teaches you one surefire way to annotate a text, identifying passages and ideas that are worth writing about. You will develop your own method as you become a more experienced close reader.
No matter what you are annotating, whether scholarly articles, poetry, fiction, art, charts, or statistical data, read with pen or stylus in hand, ready to highlight things that are unusual, interesting, puzzling, or surprising. Pick texts that are within your grasp—not highly complex, jargon-filled material—and then spend the time to truly understand them. Don’t skip over the parts that confuse you. They may contain the “keys to the kingdom” of understanding the piece, even if they don’t proffer their wisdom at once. Write a question mark or tentative interpretation next to the difficult parts, and come back to them later. Also gloss difficult words or phrases, guessing at the meaning from the context. Write this meaning in the margin and look it up later for confirmation or correction. Marginal notes can also include quick summaries, your immediate reaction, questions, connections to other materials. Highlight key examples, statistics, analogies, rhetorical devices, and so on. Also note the writer’s tone and point of view. Your eventual goal is to read quickly and
efficiently, making margin notes while sustaining your attention to the unfolding story. However, until you reach a level of confident proficiency, work slowly so that you discover key passages that will take your analysis beyond the obvious to an interpretation that you will enjoy explaining.
Judge how much to annotate so that you don’t underline every line or get so bogged down that you lose the thread of meaning. If this occurs, read once quickly for meaning, just highlighting what stands out the most as you go, then re-read, catching deeper nuances in the second pass.
You can also create an index of passages electronically or inside the front cover of your book, so that you can easily find the interesting passages, organized by topic. This method is especially helpful for longer texts. Train yourself to update your index as you read. You may think that you will remember a given incident, but most likely, you won’t. Some new idea will emerge and the previous one will be lost. So get it down now, and you will save hours of frustration when you write your essay. Sample index:
The Things They Carried(inside cover)
Games 32, 37, 70 Definitions of war 80, 85 Appositives 7, 9, 15, 17, 22, 34, 39, 43, 45, 45, 51 Storytelling 32, 34, 39, 72, 77, 78, 86, 106, 112, 127, 130, 236 Truth 46, 71, 77, 82, 85, 89, 89, 180
You can see how an index you make can save you much time when looking for passages to support your essay. What to highlight:  Main ideas and themes  Ambiguous/puzzling words, phrases, imagery  Core concepts, phrases, and themes  Poetic devices or rhetorical devices  Useful analogies, examples, and recurring motifs  Shifts in mood, pace, topic, point of view, plot, relationships  Key statistics, significant quotations, potential evidence  Writer’s tone and point of view