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Steps to Writing Well, 2016 MLA Update 13th Edition
Jean Wyrick
ISBN-13: 9781337280938 | ISBN-10: 1337280933
© 2017 | Published |  672  Pages
Previous Editions: 9781305394223

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With the most coverage of the writing process of any rhetorical writing guide, STEPS TO WRITING WELL has helped thousands of students learn to write effective academic essays. Jean Wyrick's text is known for its student-friendly, approachable tone and the way it presents rhetorical strategies for composing essays in an easy-to-follow progression of useful lessons and activities. With thoughtful instruction, almost 40 student and professional readings, and a wealth of short and long assignments, the text gives students the models and practice they need to write well-constructed essays with confidence. This thirteenth edition features useful new visual learning aids; many new student samples, professional readings, and advertisements; new essay assignments that promote using sources and multiple rhetorical strategies; a new organization for expository writing assignments and research; and updated discussions of drafting and reading multimodal texts. This edition has been updated to reflect guidelines from the 2016 MLA HANDBOOK, Eighth Edition.



  • 1. Prewriting.
    Getting Started (or Soup-Can Labels Can Be Fascinating). Selecting a Subject. Finding Your Essay’s Purpose and Focus. Pump-Primer Techniques. After You’ve Found Your Focus. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Discovering Your Audience. How to Identify Your Readers. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Keeping a Journal (Talking to Yourself Does Help). Chapter 1 Summary.
    2. The Thesis Statement.
    What Is a Thesis? What Does a “Working Thesis” Do? Can a “Working Thesis” Change? Guidelines for Writing a Good Thesis. Avoiding Common Errors in Thesis Statements. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Using the Essay Map. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Chapter 2 Summary.
    3. The Body Paragraphs.
    Planning the Body of Your Essay. Composing the Body Paragraphs. The Topic Sentence. Focusing Your Topic Sentence. Placing Your Topic Sentence. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Paragraph Development. Paragraph Length. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Paragraph Unity. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Paragraph Coherence. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Paragraph Sequence. Transitions between Paragraphs. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Chapter 3 Summary.
    4. Beginnings and Endings.
    How to Write a Good Lead-In. Avoiding Errors in Lead-Ins. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. How to Write a Good Concluding Paragraph. Avoiding Errors in Conclusions. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. How to Write a Good Title. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Chapter 4 Summary.
    5. Drafting and Revising: Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking.
    What Is Revision? When Does Revision Occur? Myths about Revision. Can I Learn to Improve My Revision Skills? Preparing to Draft. Some Basic Tips for Drafting. Some Hints When Drafting on a Computer. Some Hints When Handwriting a Draft. Writing Centers, Computer Classrooms, and Electronic Networks. Procrastination: Enemy of Critical Thinking, Thief of Time. I. Revising for Purpose, Thesis, and Audience. II. Revising for Ideas and Evidence. What Is Critical Thinking? Thinking Critically as a Writer. Critical Thinking and Visual Literacy. III. Revising for Organization. IV. Revising for Clarity and Style. V. Editing for Errors. VI. Proofreading. A Final Checklist for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “The Fear No One Talks About.” Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Collaborative Activities: Group Work, Peer Revision Workshops, and Team Projects. Benefiting from Collaborative Activities. Guidelines for Peer Revision Workshops. Guidelines for Small-Group Work. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Some Last Advice: How to Play with Your Mental Blocks. Chapter 5 Summary.
    6. Effective Sentences.
    Developing a Clear Style. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Developing a Concise Style. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Developing an Engaging Style. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Developing an Emphatic Style. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Chapter 6 Summary.
    7. Word Logic.
    Selecting the Correct Words. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Selecting the Best Words. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Applying What You’ve Learned to Your Writing. Chapter 7 Summary.
    8. The Reading-Writing Connection.
    How Can Reading Well Help Me Become a Better Writer? How Can I Become an Analytical Reader? Steps to Reading Well. Sample Annotated Essay: “College for Grown-Ups.” Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. How Can I Read Multimodal Texts Analytically? Steps to Reading Multimodal Texts Well. Sample Annotated Advertisement. Writing a Summary. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Benefiting from Class Discussion. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Chapter 8 Summary.
    Part One Summary: The Basics of the Short Essay.
    Part II: PURPOSES, MODES, AND STRATEGIES.
    9. Development by Example.
    Why and How to Use Examples In Your Writing. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “If You Want to Get to Know a New Place, Go For a Run.” Professional Essay: “So What’s So Bad about Being So-So?” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    10. Process Analysis.
    Types of Process Analysis Essays. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “An Experiment in Spending Less.” Professional Essay (Informative Process): “To Bid the World Farewell.” Professional Essay (Directional Process): “Preparing for the Job Interview: Know Thyself.” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    11. Comparison and Contrast.
    Developing Your Essay. Which Pattern Should You Use? Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay (Point-by-Point Pattern): “When It’s Time to Study, Get Out of Your Pajamas.” Sample Student Essay (Block Pattern): “More Than Just the Crust: New York and Chicago Style Pizza.” Professional Essay (Point-by-Point Pattern): “Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts.” Professional Essay (Block Pattern): “Two Ways of Viewing the River.” A Revision Worksheet. A Special Kind of Comparison: The Analogy. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    12. Definition.
    Why Do We Define? Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “Blind Paces.” Professional Essay: “The Munchausen Mystery.” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    13. Division and Classification.
    Division. Classification. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “The Native American Era at Mesa Verde.” Professional Essay (Classification): “The Plot against People.” Professional Essay (Division): “What Is REALLY in a Hot Dog?” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    14. Causal Analysis.
    Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “It’s Simply Not Worth It.” Professional Essay: “Why Are Young People Ditching Cars for Smartphones?” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    15. Argumentation.
    Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Common Logical Fallacies. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “Better Information Equals Healthier Eating.” Professional Essays (Paired): “Mandatory Voting Won’t Cure Dismal Turnout” and “Required Voting Yields Benefits.” Analyzing Advertisements. Divergent Viewpoints: Gun Ownership in America. Competing Products: Sources of Energy. Popular Appeals: Spending Our Money. Practicing What You’ve Learned. A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    16. Description.
    How to Write Effective Description. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment: “Birthday” by Marc Chagall. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “Treeclimbing.” Professional Essay: “Pretty Girl.” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    17. Narration.
    Writing the Effective Narrative Essay. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned: “Tornado Over Kansas” by John Steuart Curry. Essay Topics. A Topic Proposal for Your Essay. Sample Student Essay: “Never Underestimate the Little Things.” Professional Essay: “Don’t Mess with Auntie Jean.” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    18. Writing Essays Using Multiple Strategies.
    Choosing the Best Strategies. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Sample Student Essay: “Pass the Broccoli--Please!” Professional Essay: “Courage in Greensboro.” A Revision Worksheet. Reviewing Your Progress. Using Strategies and Sources.
    Part III: SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS.
    19. Conducting Research and Using Sources.
    Focusing Your Topic. Beginning Your Library Research. General Reference Works. Library Catalogs. Databases. Special Collections. Beginning Your Online Research. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Conducting Primary Research. The Personal Interview. The Questionnaire. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Preparing a Working Bibliography. Choosing and Evaluating Your Sources. Preparing an Annotated Bibliography. Taking Notes. Distinguishing Paraphrase from Summary. Incorporating Your Source Material. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Avoiding Plagiarism. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment.
    20. Documenting Sources.
    MLA Style. MLA Citations in Your Essay. Compiling a Works Cited List: MLA Style. Sample Works Cited Entries: MLA Style. Electronic Sources: MLA Style. Practicing What You’ve Learned. APA Style. APA Citations in Your Essay. Compiling a Reference List: APA Style. Sample Reference List Entries: APA Style. Electronic Sources: APA Style. Footnote and Bibliography Form. Using Supplementary Notes. Examples (MLA Style). Sample Student Essay Using MLA Style: “Pervasive Computing and Privacy Rights: Who Owns Your Emotions?” Sample Student Essay Using APA Style: “Pervasive Computing and Privacy Rights: Who Owns Your Emotions?”
    21. Classroom Writing Assignments: Exams, Timed Essays, and Presentations.
    Writing Well under Pressure. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Writing the Summary-and-Response Essay. Sample Student Essay: Summary and Response Essay on “College for Grown-Ups.” Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Writing for Classroom Presentations. Steps to Effective Presentation. Guidelines for Effective Delivery. Practicing What You’ve Learned.
    22. Writing about Literature.
    Using Literature in the Composition Classroom. Suggestions for Close Reading of Literature. Steps to Reading a Story. Annotated Story: “The Story of an Hour.” Sample Student Essay: “A Breath of Fresh Air.” Steps to Reading a Poem. Annotated Poem: “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.” Sample Student Essay: “Two Ways of Knowing.” Guidelines for Writing about Literature. Problems to Avoid. Practicing What You’ve Learned (Story): “Geraldo No Last Name” by Sandra Cisneros. Practicing What You’ve Learned (Poems): “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden; “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Suggestions for Writing.
    23. Writing in the World of Work.
    Composing Business Letters. Traditional Business Letter Format. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Sample Business Letter. Creating Memos. Sending Professional E-Mail. Problems to Avoid. Writing Cover Letters and Designing Résumés. Effective Cover Letters. Effective Résumés. Problems to Avoid. Sample Résumés. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Preparing Interview Notes and Post-Interview Letters.
    MindTap® Online Chapter. Writing about Visual Arts.
    Using Visual Arts in the Composition Classroom. Suggestions for Analyzing Paintings. Additional Advice about Sculpture and Photography. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Guidelines for Writing about Artworks. Problems to Avoid. Annotated Painting: Nighthawks. Sample Student Essay: “Night in the City and Psyche.” Suggestions for Writing.
    MindTap® Online Chapter. Writing about Film.
    Using Film in the Composition Classroom. Guidelines for Writing about Film. Problems to Avoid. Sample Student Essay: “Catch the Blackbird.” Practicing What You’ve Learned. Professional Essay: “The Theory of Everything.” Suggestions for Writing. Glossary of Film Terms.
    Part IV: A CONCISE HANDBOOK.
    Parts of Speech. Sentence Components and Classifications.
    24. Major Errors in Grammar.
    Assessing Your Skills: Grammar (Self-scored Diagnostic Test). Errors with Verbs. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Errors with Nouns. Errors with Pronouns. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Errors with Adverbs and Adjectives. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Errors in Modifying Phrases. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Errors in Sentences. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Answers to the Grammar Assessment.
    25. A Concise Guide to Punctuation.
    Assessing Your Skills: Punctuation (Self-scored Diagnostic Test). Punctuation Guidelines. The Period. The Question Mark. The Exclamation Point. Practicing What You’ve Learned. The Comma. Practicing What You’ve Learned. The Semicolon. Practicing What You’ve Learned. The Colon. Practicing What You’ve Learned. The Apostrophe. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Quotation Marks. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Parentheses. Brackets. The Dash. Practicing What You’ve Learned. The Hyphen. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Italics and Underlining. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Ellipsis Points. The Slash. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Answers to the Punctuation Assessment.
    26. A Concise Guide to Mechanics.
    Assessing Your Skills: Mechanics (Self-scored Diagnostic Test). Capitalization. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Abbreviations. Numbers. Practicing What You’ve Learned. Assignment. Spelling. Answers to the Mechanics Assessment.

    • STEPS TO WRITING WELL offers the most extensive discussion of the writing process (see Part One, Chapters 1−8) of any available rhetorical writing guide, including a whole chapter devoted to the thesis statement (Chapter 2) and detailed attention to each stage of the reading, composing, and revising process.
    • NUMEROUS SKILL-BUILDING EXERCISES, CLASSROOM GROUP ACTIVITIES, AND WRITING ASSIGNMENTS give students repeated opportunities to practice, apply, and review what they have learned. In addition to new and updated assignments, this edition features over two dozen collaborative classroom activities, including some team assignments that give students experience with the kind of coauthored writing tasks common in today's workplace.
    • STUDENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ANALYZE BOTH VERBAL AND VISUAL TEXTS. Chapters 5 and 8 discuss tips and strategies for working with visual texts, and many of the exercises, essay topic ideas, and writing prompts ask students to use the more than sixty-five photographs, paintings, and advertisements included in the text.
    • A STRAIGHTFORWARD APPROACH makes STEPS TO WRITING WELL easy for instructors of all experience levels and backgrounds to use and adapt to their course learning outcomes.
    • THE AUTHOR'S CLEAR GUIDELINES, EMPHASIS ON CRITICAL THINKING, AND CONVERSATIONAL TONE help students stay engaged and develop effective, thoughtful essays and other projects for their composition classes.
    • UNIQUE IN-TEXT DIAGNOSTIC QUIZZES at the opening of each handbook chapter (in Part Four) help students identify problems they may be having with grammar, punctuation, and mechanics.
    • FOUR PARTS MAKE ONE GREAT WRITING GUIDE. Part One offers extensive guidance on the composing process. Part Two discusses how to compose using the strategies of exposition, argument, description, and narration, as well as using multiple strategies. Part Three covers assignments such as the research paper, literary analysis, essay exam, oral presentation, and business writing. Part Four addresses the most common errors in grammar, punctuation, and mechanics.
    • The MLA documentation reflects significant changes in the new MLA HANDBOOK Eighth Edition, published in April 2016.
    • NEW IN THE MindTap® EDITION: Two chapters are available only online in MindTap® for STEPS TO WRITING WELL—"Writing About Visual Arts" and "Writing about Film." For this new edition, MindTap® also features new videos that discuss how to compose with each of the rhetorical strategies discussed in Part Two; access to new additional readings for each chapter in Part Two; updated "Getting Started" activities; and much more.
    • NEW VISUAL LEARNING AIDS: New flowcharts summarize key processes and are of particular help to students who are visual learners. These new "Visualizing the Process" flowcharts highlight the steps in the writing and revision process in Part One, the key steps in the composing process for each type of rhetorical essay featured in Part Two, and key steps in the research process in Chapter 19.
    • NEW STAND-ALONE EXPOSITION CHAPTERS IN PART TWO: Chapters 9–14 focus on individual exposition strategies (exemplification, process analysis, comparison/contrast, definition, division/classification, and causal analysis) and allow students and instructors to more easily find the rhetorical strategies that they need.
    • NEW SAMPLE STUDENT ESSAYS: Eight new student essays (of 16 total) in Parts One, Two, and Three offer new models for drafting, composing, and researching. New student samples include a draft and revised essay in Chapter 5; new exemplification, process analysis, comparison/contrast, and argument essays; new MLA and APA research papers; and a new summary response essay in Chapter 21. Topics of the new essays include the fear of success, finding the best place to study, why campus food establishments should use food calorie labels, and the perils of computers that monitor people's emotions.
    • NEW PROFESSIONAL READINGS: Six new professional readings in Parts One, Two, and Three offer new models for using rhetorical strategies and new topics for discussion. New selections touch on contemporary issues such as why more young people are buying smartphones than cars, whether voting should become mandatory for all citizens, and why college may be better for "grown-ups" than for young adults right out of high school.
    • NEW COVERAGE OF READING MULTIMODAL TEXTS: Chapter 8 includes an all-new section on reading multimodal texts, offering strategies to help students analyze visual and multimedia texts. It also includes an all-new sample annotated advertisement that demonstrates how to use these analytic strategies.
    • NEW ASSIGNMENTS OFFERING PRACTICE WITH RESEARCH AND MULTIPLE MODES: New end-of-chapter "Using Strategies and Sources" assignments in Part Two offer new opportunities for students to practice using multiple rhetorical strategies and secondary sources to explore topics and develop an essay.
    • MORE ON DRAFTING: Chapter 5 now includes an all-new draft and revised version of a student essay to better demonstrate the composing process for students, as well as a revised and expanded discussion of drafting.
    • TWO CHAPTERS ON RESEARCH: Coverage of writing a research project is now divided into two chapters (Chapter 19, "Conducting Research and Using Sources," and Chapter 20, "Documenting Sources") to allow students and instructors to more easily navigate these discussions. Chapter 20 also includes a new sample student research paper: "Pervasive Computing and Privacy Rights: Who Owns Your Emotions?"
  • "STEPS TO WRITING WELL is the most thorough composition text available at this time. The content, especially the fact that each concept has examples to show students the concept in practice, is superior to that of any other text I have used or reviewed."

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant

  • MindTap® English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Wyrick's Steps to Writing Well
    ISBN-10: 130566552X | ISBN-13:9781305665521
    List Price = 50.00
    MindTap English for Steps to Writing Well
    Instructor's Companion Website for Wyrick's Steps to Writing Well with Additional Readings, 10th
    ISBN-10: 1305858492 | ISBN-13:9781305858497
    List Price = 0.00
    For additional instructor support materials, go to login.cengage.com. The instructor’s manual provides teaching suggestions, suggested answers to exercises, and a sample course syllabus to assist instructors in teaching the course.
    LMS Integrated MindTap® English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Wyrick’s Steps to Writing Well
    ISBN-10: 1305875567 | ISBN-13:9781305875562
    List Price = 50.00
    Cengage Learning has partnered with leading LMS providers to deliver seamless access to our premier learning solutions from the environment that is most comfortable and familiar to you and your students. This allows students to get up and running quickly and for you to enhance and customize your course with learning activities that will elevate thinking and improve course outcomes.


  • Jean Wyrick is Professor Emerita of English at Colorado State University, where she was Director of Composition for 11 years. She has more than 25 years of experience teaching writing, training writing teachers, and designing writing/writing-across-the-curriculum programs. Her other textbooks include THE RINEHART READER and DISCOVERING IDEAS. She has presented over a hundred workshops and papers on the teaching of writing, American literature, American Studies, and Women's Studies.