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The Complete Idiot’s Guide™ to Writing Well

Book Description

If you have trouble putting your thoughts down on paper, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well has everything you need to know to make writing of any kind as easy as thinking or speaking. This guide gives expert advice on making your writing as clear and persuasive as possible, whether it's a thank-you note, a school paper, or an executive briefing. It provides easy-to-follow guidelines on structure, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and style. You will find terrific tips on minimizing the time and energy taken up by tasks like research, note-taking, and proofreading.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Foreword
  3. Introduction
    1. What You'll Learn in This Book
    2. More for Your Money!
    3. Acknowledgments
    4. Special Thanks to the Technical Reviewer
    5. Trademarks
  4. 1. Write Now
    1. 1. Why Writing Matters
      1. The Power of the Pen
      2. Captain of Your Fate
      3. Take a Letter
      4. It's as Easy as A, B, C
      5. Break the Code
    2. 2. The Write Way
      1. Trick or Treat
      2. Cop an Attitude
      3. Model Behavior
        1. Reading to Write
        2. Color My World
      4. Four Play
        1. Writing That Explains: Exposition
        2. Writing That Tells a Story: Narration
        3. Writing That Persuades: Argumentation
        4. Writing That Describes: Description
    3. 3. Pack the Essentials
      1. The People's Court
      2. How's That Again? Logic
        1. Organization
        2. Unity and Coherence
      3. Take Aim: Purpose
      4. Crowd Control: Audience
        1. Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You
        2. Doing the Legwork
      5. Hitting the Right Note: Tone
      6. Details, Details, Details
      7. Simply Irresistible: Style
    4. 4. Words, Words, Words
      1. There's a Word for It
      2. Royal Words
      3. And the Commoners
      4. Words to Live By
        1. Concrete and Abstract Words
        2. Specific and General Words
      5. More Than Meets the Eye: Denotation and Connotation
      6. How's That Again?
      7. Use Nonbiased Language
      8. Formal and Informal English
        1. Culture Club
        2. Having the Last Word
    5. 5. Clause and Effect
      1. Going Through a Phrase: Phrases
        1. Parts of Speech
        2. Variety Is the Spice of Life
      2. Prepositional Phrases
        1. Adjective Phrases
        2. Adverb Phrases
      3. Verbal Phrases
        1. Gerund Phrases
        2. Infinitive Phrases
        3. The Grammar Police on Patrol
        4. Participles and Participle Phrases
      4. Appositive Phrases
      5. Tighten Up
      6. Clause-ality
        1. Dependent Clauses
        2. Independent Clauses
        3. Unite and Conquer
    6. 6. Sentence Sense
      1. I Know It When I See It
      2. Superb Sentences
      3. Sentence Style
        1. It's What's Up Front That Counts
        2. Lean, Mean, Writing Machine
        3. United We Stand, Divided We Fall
        4. Passive Aggressive
        5. Iron Man Writing
        6. Parallel Play
        7. Variety Is the Spice of Life (and Writing!)
      4. Sorry Sentences
        1. Slice and Dice Choppy Sentences
        2. Missing in Action
        3. Fragments of Your Imagination
        4. Lost in Space
        5. Run-On and On and On
        6. America's Funniest Home Sentences
    7. 7. Paragraphs Plus
      1. Appearance vs. Reality
      2. Don't Leave Home Without It: Topic Sentences
        1. Your Place in the Sun
        2. Hidden in Plain Sight
      3. Build Me Up, Buttercup: Supporting Sentences
        1. Dig We Must
        2. Walk This Way
      4. Sweet Endings: Concluding Sentences
  5. 2. The Writing Process
    1. 8. Write This Way
      1. Get the Big Picture
      2. Blueprint for Success: Planning
      3. Topic Time
      4. Narrowing Your Topic
      5. Getting the Facts: Researching
      6. Shaping and Drafting
        1. Outlines
        2. Big Night: Drafting
      7. Spit and Polish: Revising and Editing
      8. The Proof's in the Pudding—and the Writing: Proofreading
      9. Brain Freeze
    2. 9. A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place
      1. Special Delivery
        1. The Main Event
        2. My Way or the Highway?
      2. A Method to All This Madness
      3. Time Marches On: Chronological Order
      4. It's What's Up Front That Counts: Order of Importance
      5. Asked and Answered: Question and Answer
      6. Space, the Final Frontier: Spatial Order
    3. 10. Making Your Bones
      1. Start at the Very Beginning: Introductions
        1. Just the Facts, Ma'am
        2. Once Upon a Time …
        3. Hit the Funny Bone
        4. Quote/Unquote
        5. Ask a Question
        6. Describe It
        7. The Numbers Game
      2. Body Talk
        1. Stats It!
        2. Detailed Work
        3. Let's Make an Example of It
        4. Quote Me
        5. Story Time
      3. End Game: Conclusions
        1. Summarize and Restate
        2. State an Opinion
        3. Call for Action
    4. 11. Personal Best: Revising and Editing
      1. Judgment Day
        1. Stand Back!
        2. I'm Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille
      2. Less Can Be More: Revise by Deleting
      3. All Dressed Up and Ready to Go: Revise by Elaborating
      4. Little Things Matter a Lot: Revise Punctuation
      5. Come Again? Revise by Rewording
      6. It's a Lock: Revise for Unity
        1. Crazy Glue Your Sentences: Transitions
        2. Smooth as Silk
      7. A Master at Work
  6. 3. Write for Success
    1. 12. You Got Some 'Splaining to Do, Lucy: Exposition
      1. The Perfect Couple: Cause and Effect
        1. Check It Out
        2. Chain Gang
      2. Neat and Tidy: Classify-Divide
      3. Alike and Different: Comparison and Contrast
      4. You Could Look It Up: Definition
      5. “How to” Essays: Process Analysis
    2. 13. Tell Me a Story: Narration
      1. Narrative Building Blocks
        1. The Plot Thickens: Plot
        2. Who Was That Masked Man? The Speaker
        3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Characters
        4. The Curtain Rises: Setting
        5. The Meaning of Life: Theme
        6. I Spy: Point of View
      2. Get Cookin'!
      3. Life Line: Personal Narratives
    3. 14. Why Not See It My Way?: Persuasion and Argumentation
      1. It Won't Be Greek to You
      2. A + B = C: Appeal to Reason
        1. Specific to General: Inductive Reasoning
        2. General to Specific: Deductive Reasoning
      3. Take the High Road: Appeal to Ethics
      4. Tug the Heartstrings: Appeal to Emotion
      5. The Moment of Truth
      6. My Way or the Highway: Acknowledging the Opposition
        1. Method #1: Show the Opposition Is Wrong
        2. Method #2: Show the Opposition Has Some Merit, but Your Point Is Just as Good
        3. Method #3: Show the Opposition Has Merit, but Your Point Is Stronger
      7. How's That Again? Logical Fallacies
    4. 15. Picture This: Description
      1. Help Is on the Way!
      2. Make a Deposit in the Idea Bank
        1. Journals vs. Diaries
        2. Don't Go There
      3. Take the Plunge
      4. Color My World
        1. So Write, Already
        2. A Master at Work
      5. Music to the Eyes
        1. What Is a Poem?
        2. Something for Everyone
      6. Tools of the Trade
        1. Poetic Elements
        2. Figures of Speech
      7. An Affair to Remember
    5. 16. Writing Across the Curriculum
      1. Different Strokes for Different Folks
        1. Border Disputes
        2. One Size Doesn't Fit All!
        3. Mix 'n' Match
      2. Playing with the Big Kids
      3. Full Credit
      4. Two's Company, Three's a Crowd— Unless You're Writing
        1. Point/Counterpoint
        2. All Together, Now
  7. 4. Just Shoot Me Now: Research Papers and Term Papers
    1. 17. Paper Chase
      1. Inquiring Minds Want to Know
        1. Meet the Research Paper
        2. And Here's the Term Paper
      2. Time Flies When You're Having Fun
        1. A Month in the Country
        2. See Results in Six Weeks!
        3. Forty Days (but Not Forty Nights)
        4. Around the Library in Sixty Days
      3. Subject to Change
        1. One Percent Inspiration + NinetyNine Percent Perspiration = Great Subjects
        2. Time to Squeeze the Tomatoes
        3. Judge and Jury
      4. Subjects vs. Topics
        1. Cut Down to Size
        2. Goldywriter and the Three Bears
      5. The Heart of the Matter: Writing a Thesis Statement
    2. 18. Seek and Ye Shall Find
      1. Basic Training
      2. Book Learning
        1. Dewey Decimal Classification System
        2. Library of Congress Classification System
        3. Hunt and Peck
        4. Bargain Books
      3. Mags and Rags
      4. Researching on the I-Way
        1. Search Engines
        2. URLs
        3. WAIS
        4. News Groups
        5. Help Me, Rhonda
        6. For a Good Time, Call …
      5. You're Not Done Yet
    3. 19. Cast a Critical Eye
      1. An Embarrassment of Riches
        1. Who's the Boss?: Authority
        2. What's Behind Curtain #3?: Source
        3. It's All Relative: Timeliness
        4. Find the Hidden Agenda: Bias
        5. Take Aim: Purpose
        6. Good Fit: Appropriateness
      2. On the Right Track
        1. A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place
        2. Computer “Cards”
      3. Working the Crowd
    4. 20. In the End Zone
      1. Backed by the Best
        1. Star Power
        2. Cued In
      2. Credit Given Here
      3. MLA Internal Documentation
      4. CMS Footnotes and Endnotes
      5. Stop, Thief!
      6. Light at the End of the Tunnel
        1. Works Cited or Bibliography Page
        2. Endmatter
      7. Frontmatter
        1. Keyboarding
        2. The Final Shine: Proofreading
  8. 5. More Big Deals
    1. 21. In the Hot Seat: Writing Under Pressure
      1. What, Me Worry?
      2. What's the Big Idea?
        1. If the Assignment Asks You to Recall …
        2. If the Assignment Asks You to Analyze …
        3. If the Assignment Asks You to Evaluate …
        4. If the Assignment Asks You to Synthesize …
      3. Write This Way
      4. The Golden Rules
      5. Before the Test …
      6. When the Meter's Running
        1. Panic in the Streets
        2. Last Licks
    2. 22. All the World's a Stage: Writing Speeches
      1. The Big Three
        1. Speeches That Inform
        2. Speeches That Persuade
        3. Speeches That Entertain
      2. Information, Please: Speeches That Inform
        1. Sweet Themes Are Made of This
        2. Crystal Clear
        3. Detail-Oriented
        4. Model Informative Speech
      3. Point Counterpoint: Speeches That Persuade
        1. As Easy as One, Two, Three
        2. Vote Early and Often
        3. Model Persuasive Speech
      4. Life of the Party: Speeches That Entertain
        1. Crowd Pleaser
        2. Come on Baby, Let the Good Times Roll
        3. The Line-Up
        4. Model Entertaining Speech #1
        5. Model Entertaining Speech #2
    3. 23. Letter Perfect
      1. Drop Me a Line
        1. Dear Mr. Postman
        2. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
      2. Stamp of Approval
        1. Return to Sender, Address Unknown
        2. Zip It Up
        3. Short and Sweet
      3. People Who Like People: Social Notes
        1. Thanks a Bunch: Bread-and-Butter Notes
        2. I Feel Your Pain: Letters of Condolence
        3. It's My Party, and I'll Cry If I Want To
      4. Letters of Opinion
        1. I Can't Get No Satisfaction
        2. Kudos!
    4. 24. The Professional Edge: Writing on the Job
      1. The Desk Set
        1. Style and Substance
        2. Block Head
      2. Appearance Is Reality
      3. Have I Got News for You!
        1. When the News Is Good
        2. When the News Is Bad
      4. Onward and Upward: Resumés and Cover Letters
        1. Work History Resumé
        2. Functional (Skills) Resumé
        3. Cover Letters
    5. 25. You've Got Mail!
      1. Writing.com
        1. Welcome to the Future
        2. What's Your Address?
        3. The Password Is Swordfish
        4. Super Model
      2. Bits and Bytes
        1. Boot Up
        2. Special Delivery
        3. Private Eyes
      3. Johnny B Good: “Netiquette”
  9. 6. Picture Perfect
    1. 26. Grammar 101
      1. Woe Is I
      2. Sentence Errors
      3. Punctuation Errors
      4. Grammar Errors
      5. Usage Errors
    2. 27. Spelling Ace
      1. Spelling Bee
      2. Spelling Rules!
        1. i Before e Except After c …
        2. The Prefix Rule
        3. The Suffix Rules
        4. Joined at the Hip: Compound Words
      3. Good Things Come in Small Packages: Contractions
      4. 9/10th of the Law: Possessives
      5. Crowd Control: Plurals
      6. How's That Again?: Pronunciation
      7. Silent but Deadly: Silent Letters
      8. Spelling Demons
    3. 28. Mark Me: Punctuation
      1. End Runs: Period, Question Mark, and Exclamation Mark
        1. The Period
        2. The Question Mark
        3. The Exclamation Mark
      2. Big Man on Campus: The Comma
        1. In the Beginning
        2. In the Middle
        3. Wait! There's More!
      3. Hot Shot: The Semicolon
      4. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The Colon
      5. The Dynamic Duo: Quotation Marks
      6. Wild Things: The Hyphen, Dash, and Ellipsis
        1. The Hyphen
        2. The Dash
        3. The Ellipsis
      7. Pair Off and Square Off: Parentheses and Brackets
        1. Parentheses
        2. Brackets
      8. A Triple Threat: The Apostrophe
        1. Use an Apostrophe to Show Possession
        2. Use an Apostrophe to Show Plural Forms
        3. Use an Apostrophe to Show Contractions
    4. 29. A Capital Affair
      1. Capital Punishment
      2. A Tall Order: Capitalization
      3. Short and Sweet: Abbreviations
      4. You Can Count On It: Numbers
    5. A. Sample Term Papers
      1. Term Paper #1
        1. Bibliography
      2. Term Paper #2
        1. Bibliography
      3. Term Paper #3
        1. Bibliography
    6. B. Documentation Format
      1. MLA Documentation
        1. Citing Books
        2. Citing Periodicals
        3. Citing Electronic Sources and CD-ROMs
        4. Citing Pamphlets
        5. Citing Government Documents
        6. Citing Interviews
        7. Citing Speeches or Lectures
      2. Citing Radio Shows and TV Shows
      3. APA Documentation
        1. Citing Books
        2. Citing Periodicals
        3. Citing Electronic Sources and CD-ROMs