Sunday, May 10, 2009

How To Write

HOW TO WRITE. Alastair Fowler. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 188 pp. $9.95. We live in a world that is faster and more complex than ever before. Not only does the world change, we also change. Where is the place for writing in this fast-changing world? Why do so many people, not only students, have problems with writing? How To Write offers some thought-provoking answers to these questions.

According to the author, this book "is not a writing manual, nor a guide to grammar, nor to rhetoric .... It is only a small book aiming to help you form ideas about writing" (Fowler, 2006, p. v). The book consists of 25 easy-to-read and comprehend chapters, and these chapters cover different stages of the writing process. The chapters about the first stage of the writing process (i.e., reading material, drafting, outlining, paragraphs and paragraph types, arguments, and transitions) are full of vivid examples. In addition to providing a plethora of clear examples to support his claims, Alastair Fowler also goes in depth explaining why writers must use transitions or why effective topic sentences are so important.

The remaining chapters of the book provide a very explicit and detailed overview of the last stage of the writing process (i.e., revising). I am very impressed with Chapter 11 of How To Write. This piece focuses on English language word order and reminds readers that "the sentence meaning is conveyed through the order of its words" (p. 75). Chapters 22 and 23 concentrate on the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet as a research tool and also on what kind of reference books writers should consult. The only minor flaw of this book is its format, in my opinion. Adding pictures, photographs, drawings, or some other types of visual aids could have made the reading of the text a bit more engaging.

Fowler concludes by stating that "[his] main theme is that writing, far from being a single action, is normally a sequence of related steps, phases, activities" (p. 187). I second this claim, and I truly enjoyed reading this book because it can be used by anyone who struggles with writing and is eager to learn how to write well. Reviewed by Olena Drozd, Coordinator, Writing Center and Reading Lab, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL.

Source Citation:Drozd, Olena. "How To Write." Childhood Education 85.4 (Summer 2009): 267(2). General OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 10 May 2009


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