Academic and Essay Writing

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams. The Craft of Research. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.    

The Craft of Research is more than just a guide to the research process. It also provides lessons on topic selection, organization, argumentation, introductions, conclusions, and more. Presentation of research findings, whether via summary, paraphrase, quote, table, graph, or diagram are also covered.


Eschholz, Paul, and Alfred Rosa. Models for Writers: Short Essays for Composition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins (multiple editions)

Models teaches essay writing from the bottom up in four parts. The first part is devoted to the process of writing, the second to the elements of the the essay, and the third to techniques of language, and the fourth to types of essays with a nod to the research paper. With plenty of examples to read and explore, this text shows and tells the student how to craft a variety of successful essays. This is a fine text for the young writer ready to gently and thoroughly explore the essay.


Birkenstein, Cathy, Gerald Graff, and Russel Durst. They Say, I Say With Readings: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012

This is a highly readable text that teaches argument using templates. Rather than being formulaic, this technique allows those learning argumentation a host of clear and effective ways of relating the words and ideas of others to their own arguments. The essays in the back of this edition offer plenty of examples for exploration and critique. It’s best used after a writer has a firm grasp of a variety of essay writing techniques.


Spatt, Brenda. Writing from Sources. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins. (multiple editions)

Spatt starts with reading carefully and critically, the first steps when a writer decides what sources to refer to when writing. She then thoroughly teaches summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting.  From there, she teaches single source then multiple source essay writing using essays in the book as springboards. Finally, she guides the research essay writer on the process of planning, researching, and writing this more challenging type of paper. This is a text best used by students comfortable with a variety of essay writing techniques.


Lunsford, Andrea A., Ruszkiewicz, John J., and Keith Walters. Everything’s An Argument With Readings. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s: 2004.

Rather than starting with writing and moving to argumentation, this text begins with argument itself, exploring intent, audience, and style. She assumes writing competence, making this a text for the more experienced writer. Documentation receives brief treatment, with most of the text dedicated to exploring the arguments of existing essays and teaching a variety of argumentative techniques.


Michael Clay Thompson (Royal Fireworks Press)

This language arts curriculum from Royal Fireworks Press includes six levels of books on grammar, writing, vocabulary, poetics, and reading. They’re unlike traditional language arts texts and written with gifted students in mind. For my reviews of these books, see my curriculum review at Quarks and Quirks. I teach out of all levels of his writing texts and often recommend the corresponding grammar book if a student has yet to study his materials. 


Fiction Writing

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, 2nd edition. Renni Browne and Dave King. William Morrow, 2004.

Aspiring fiction writers of all ages can benefit from this tutorial on the craft. Browne and King cover dialogue, monologue, description, exposition, balance, and much more. Each chapter is full of examples and ends with a few writing exercises. Whatever stage of fiction writing you find yourself in, this book will serve useful.


Books about Writing by Writers

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner: 2000.

Whether you write fiction or not (and I don’t), this is a book to read and reread. His memoir is gritty and honest, and the writing advice that follows, direct and practical. I can’t think of a better read for the fledgling or experienced writer who wants to hear from a pro on the writing life and writing itself.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing Life. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.

Lamott’s gentler tone no less effectively communicates both a love and respect for the craft of writing. She manages both reverence and humor in this instructional and inspirational book on writing. It’s a quiet, peaceful version of the memoir/writing guide and a fine work for any young or not-so-young writer wanting to know how real writers do the hard work of creating beauty and strength with the written word.



American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. American Psychological Association, 2009.

Associated Press. The Associated Press Stylebook 2014. Associated Press: 2014.

Modern Language Association. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. Modern Language Association, 2009

University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.


Online Style Guides

Associated Press Style (Purdue Online Writing Lab)

APA Style (American Psychological Association)

Chicago Manual of Style Online

OWL: MLA Style (Purdue Online Writing Lab)








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