guide for students in English and the humanities
This is a lively and comprehensive essay-writing manual which is obviously based on solid experience of helping students to improve their skills. Having written a book on the same subject myself [and with the same title!] I was keen to see what he had to say. Richard Turley talks you through the composition of an essay – from introduction to conclusion. This is done by a close examination of real examples, and he shows how writing can be improved by careful editing and re-drafting.
All points of his advice are well illustrated, and he clearly knows where students need most help – though I wasn’t so sure about his discussing logic of argument, punctuation, and arrangement of evidence all at the same time. Several issues at once might be difficult for some students to grasp. However, one advantage of this approach is that the reader is brought close to the real process of composition – where several things do have to be considered at once.
He explains how to generate the structure of an essay – by exploring its question – and how to incorporate and use quotations from critics to strengthen your own arguments.
Then he tackles the thorny issues of making links between topics and guiding readers through an argument. I often suggest to students that their intentions should be made obvious without clunky ‘signposting’ of the ‘First I will discuss…’ variety. But the examples he provides are persuasive.
On conclusions, he goes through a series of edits, showing how the expression of ideas can be clarified and improved. He also covers quotations and the conventions of scholarly referencing (which many students find difficult) plus spelling, good style, and presentation.
He finishes with libraries and the use of computers, plus writing essays under exam conditions. Most of his illustrative material is drawn from literature and the humanities – but the advice he gives will be useful for students in most disciplines.
I enjoyed reading this book. The style is lively and often quite amusing. It’s a shame he doesn’t provide a bibliography; but this is one of the few books on study skills which will actually make you laugh.
© Roy Johnson 2002
Richard Marggraf Turley, Writing Essays: A guide for students in English and the humanities, London: Routledge, 2000, pp.145, ISBN: 0415230136
Essay writng links
- Writing Essays 3.0 (.html)
Writing Essays 3.o covers every aspect of essay writing – from note-taking and making essay plans to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. Learn how to write good introductions, use quotations effectively, and construct persuasive arguments. Suitable for all students in further and higher education. Includes a wide range of sample essays in humanities and social sciences. […]
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