Real Writing with Readings: Paragraphs and Essays for College, Work, and Everyday Life

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Real Writing with Readings: Paragraphs and Essays for College, Work, and Everyday Life

Anker, S. (2004). Real Writing with Readings: Paragraphs and Essays for College, Work, and Everyday Life, 3rd edition. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's.

This text, which is appropriate for use in a basic (level 1) developmental writing course, is attractively formatted with a good deal of white space, highlighting, and color photographs. Anker also includes comments from "real students" about their experiences as developing writers, an added bonus for those who feel they are alone in their struggle with writing assignments. This last feature supports what the author asserts is her purpose for writing the text, i.e., to provide a "connection between writing and students' lives." As such, the text is suitable for both traditional and non-traditional learners.

What is perhaps most valuable about Real Writing with Readings is its comprehensive nature; Anker leaves no writing concern unexamined. In the process, the author provides developmental writers with the basic building blocks of interesting and coherent prose, but also includes clear and manageable instruction and practice related to higher level writing concerns such as producing research papers. Students who progress through this text will undoubtedly be ready to tackle any and all college level writing projects regardless of the discipline.

Anker has divided the text into three units: 1) paragraphs and essays; 2) editing, i.e., writing mechanics; and 3) readings. The text also includes four appendices - essay writing basics, oral presentations, resumes and cover letters, and computer basics.

Paragraphs and Essays (1) has three major divisions: How to Write Paragraphs and Essays, Writing Different Kinds of Paragraphs and Essays, and Special College Writing Projects.

In the first division, How to Write Paragraphs and Essays, Anker initially focuses on the steps in process writing - from motivation for getting started on an assignment to time management (for completing assignments) to defining both individual and course goals. The basic tenets of effective writing - audience, purpose, thesis, and support - are introduced in Chapter 1, followed by a step-by-step guide for progressing from meeting readers' needs to writing a focused thesis to adding details and devising a conclusion. At this point in the chapter, the need to develop well-structured paragraphs is addressed, followed by an overview of the five-paragraph essay structure and tips for avoiding plagiarism by documenting sources. The strength of this chapter lies in the fact that it is an overview of essay writing basics; subsequent chapters pinpoint specific writing concerns such as choosing and narrowing topics.

Chapter 2 illustrates how using free writing, questioning, clustering/mapping and journaling helps writers to narrow a given topic so that it can be adequately developed in a short essay. In Chapter 3, practice in identifying and then writing sentences that are specific and direct is provided, as is reinforcement of the concept that thesis statements and topic sentences must reflect these qualities as well. The chapter ends with a directive to write a specific direct thesis statement using the narrowed topic from Chapter 2. With a strong thesis statement in tow, Chapter 4 moves the writer forward by illustrating the concepts of primary and secondary support for topic sentences and/or thesis statements. This chapter is especially effective for writers who are capable of identifying important aspects or points that need to be addressed about a given topic but who falter when it comes to adding enough details to fully involve the reader with the topic. Planning and organization by using time order, space order or order of importance are the focus of Chapter 5. Anker also includes a discussion of how a particular type of order may be more appropriate than another for a given topic. …