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Focus on Writing : Paragraphs and Essays

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Bedford/St. Martin's
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Focus on Writing: Paragraphs and Essays,new from best-selling authors Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell, is their most accessible writing text yet.Focus on Writingengages students visually, demonstrates concepts with color and highlighting, and offers students more grammar support than any comparable text on the market. This text provides the same excellent coverage that Kirszner and Mandell's popular workbook series,Foundations First: Sentences and ParagraphsandWriting First: Practice in Contextare known for, while also responding to students' changing needs and realities. It offers more step-by-step coverage of the writing process and more diverse examples, exercises, and models, making it both student-friendly and thorough. Working clearly and simply to engage and motivate students,Focus on Writingempowers students to become capable writers and self-editors who are prepared for college composition.

Author Biography

During their more than 25-year collaboration, LAURIE KIRSZNER and STEPHEN MANDELL have produced a number of best-selling college texts for Bedford/St. Martin’s, including Foundations First: Sentences and Paragraphs (2005), Writing First: Practice in Context (2006), and Patterns for College Writing (2007). Laurie Kirszner teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Stephen Mandell is the founder and former director of the basic writing program at Drexel University, where he teaches composition, literature, and technical and business writing.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors

A Student's Guide to Using Focus on Writing

Checklists for Writing Paragraphs and Essays


1. Understanding the Writing Process

STEP 1: Planning

A. Understanding Paragraph Structure

B. Focusing on Your Assignment, Purpose, and Audience

C. Finding Ideas

D. Identifying Your Main Idea and Writing a Topic Sentence

STEP 2: Organizing

E. Choosing Your Supporting Points

F. Arranging Your Supporting Points

STEP 3: Drafting

G. Drafting Your Paragraph

H. TESTing Your Paragraph

STEP 4: Revising and Editing

I. Revising Your Paragraph

J. Editing Your Paragraph

2. TESTing Your Paragraphs

A. Using a Topic Sentence to Unify Your Paragraph

B. Using Evidence to Support Your Paragraph's Main Idea

C. Using a Summary Statement to Reinforce Your Paragraph's Unity

D. Using Transitions to Add Coherence


3. Exemplification

A. What is Exemplification?

B. Writing an Exemplification Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing an Exemplification Paragraph

4. Narration

A. What is Narration?

B. Writing a Narrative Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Narration Paragraph

5. Description

A. What is Description?

B. Writing a Descriptive Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Description Paragraph

6. Using Process

A. What is Process?

B. Writing a Process Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Process Paragraph

7. Cause and Effect

A. What is Cause and Effect?

B. Writing a Cause-and-Effect Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Cause and Effect Paragraph

8. Comparison and Contrast

A. What is Comparison and Contrast?

B. Writing a Comparison-and-Contrast Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Comparison and Contrast Paragraph

9. Classification

A. What is Classification?

B. Writing a Classification Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Classification Paragraph

10. Definition

A. What is Definition?

B. Writing a Definition Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing a Definition Paragraph

11. Argument

A. What is Argument?

B. Writing an Argument Paragraph

Chapter Review

Checklist: TESTing an Argument Paragraph


12. Writing an Essay

STEP 1: Planning

A. Understand Essay Structure

B. Focus on Your Assignment, Purpose, and Audience

C. Find Ideas

D. Identify Your Main Idea and State Your Thesis

STEP 2: Organizing

E. Choose Supporting Points

F. Arrange Your Supporting Points

STEP 3: Drafting

G. Draft Your Essay

H. TEST Your Essay

STEP 4: Revising and Editing

I. Revise Your Essay

Self-Assessment Checklist: Revising Your Essay

J. Edit Your Essay

Self-Assessment Checklist: Editing Your Essay

K. Check Your Essay's Format

Review Checklist: Writing an Essay

13. Introductions and Conclusions

A. Introductions

B. Conclusions

Review Checklist: Introductions and Conclusions


14. Writing Simple Sentences

A. Subjects

B. Prepositional Phrases

C. Verbs

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Writing Simple Sentences

15. Writing Compound Sentences

A. Compound Sentences with Coordinating Conjunctions

B. Compound Sentences with Semicolons

C. Compound Sentences with Transitional Words and Phrases

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Writing Compound Sentences

16. Writing Complex Sentences

A. Identifying Complex Sentences

B. Complex Sentences with Subordinating Conjunctions

C. Complex Sentences with Relative Pronouns

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Writing Complex Sentences

17. Writing Varied Sentences

A. Varying Sentence Types

B. Varying Sentence Openings

C. Combining Sentences

D. Varying Sentence Length

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Writing Varied Sentences

18. Using Parallelism

A. Recognizing Parallel Structure

B. Using Parallel Structure

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Using Parallelism

19. Using Words Effectively

A. Using Specific Words

B. Using Concise Language

C. Avoiding Slang

D. Avoiding ClichŽs

E. Using Similes and Metaphors

F. Avoiding Sexist Language

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Using Words Effectively

Unit Review


20. Run-ons

A. Recognizing Run-ons

B. Correcting Run-ons

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Run-ons

21. Sentence Fragments

A. Recognizing Fragments

B. Missing-Subject Fragments

C. Phrase Fragments

D. Fragments with Incomplete Verbs

E. Dependent Clause Fragments

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Sentence Fragments

22. Subject-Verb Agreement

A. Understanding Subject-Verb Agreement

B. Compound Subjects

C. Be, Have, and Do

D. Words between Subject and Verb

E. Collective Noun Subjects

F. Indefinite Pronoun Subjects

G. Verbs before Subjects

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Subject-Verb Agreement

23. Illogical Shifts

A. Shifts in Tense

B. Shifts in Person

C. Shifts in Number

D. Shifts in Voice

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Illogical Shifts

24. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

A. Identifying -ing Modifiers

B. Identifying -ed Modifiers

C. Correcting Dangling Modifiers

D. Correcting Misplaced Modifiers

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

Unit Review


25. Verbs: Past Tense

A. Regular Verbs

B. Irregular Verbs

C. Problem Verbs: Be

D. Problem Verbs: Can/Could and Will/Would

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Verbs: Past Tense

26. Verbs: Past Participles

A. Regular Past Participles

B. Irregular Past Participles

C. The Present Perfect Tense

D. The Past Perfect Tense

E. Past Participles as Adjectives

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Verbs: Past Participles

27. Nouns and Pronouns

A. Identifying Nouns

B. Forming Plural Nouns

C. Identifying Pronouns

D. Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

E. Special Problems with Agreement

F. Pronoun Case

G. Special Problems with Case

H. Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Nouns and Pronouns

28. Adjectives and Adverbs

A. Identifying Adjectives and Adverbs

B. Comparatives and Superlatives

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Adjectives and Adverbs

29. Grammar and Usage for ESL Writers

A. Subjects in Sentences

B. Special Problems with Subjects

C. Plural Nouns

D. Count and Noncount Nouns

E. Determiners with Count and Noncount Nouns

F. Articles

G. Negative Statements and Questions

H. Verb Tense

I. Stative Verbs

J. Modal Auxiliaries

K. Gerunds

L. Placing Modifiers in Order

M. Choosing Prepositions

N. Prepositions in Familiar Expressions

O. Prepositions in Phrasal Verbs

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Grammar and Usage for ESL Writers

Unit Review


30. Using Commas

A. Commas in a Series

B. Commas with Introductory Phrases and Transitional Words and Phrases

C. Commas with Appositives

D. Commas with Nonrestrictive Clauses

E. Commas in Dates and Addresses

F. Unnecessary Commas

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Using Commas

31. Using Apostrophes

A. Apostrophes in Contradictions

B. Apostrophes in Possessives

C. Incorrect Use of Apostrophes

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Using Apostrophes

32. Using Other Punctuation Marks

A. Semicolons

B. Colons

C. Dashes

D. Parentheses

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Using Other Punctuation Marks

33. Understanding Mechanics

A. Capitalizing Proper Nouns

B. Punctuating Direct Quotations

C. Setting Off Titles

D. Hyphens

E. Abbreviations

F. Numbers

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Understanding Mechanics

34. Understanding Spelling

A. Becoming a Better Speller

B. ie and ei

C. Prefixes

D. Suffixes

E. Commonly Confused Words

Chapter Review

Review Checklist: Understanding Spelling

Unit Review


35. Reading for College

A. Previewing

B. Highlighting

C. Annotating

D. Outlining

E. Summarizing

F. Writing a Response Paragraph

Review Checklist: Reading for College

36. Readings for Writers

Working and Learning

ÒDon't Hang Up, That's My Mom Calling,Ó Bobbi Buchanan

ÒDelusions of Grandeur,Ó Henry Lewis Gates, Jr.

ÒAt the Heart of a Historic Movement,Ó John Hartmire

ÒThe Little Pretzel Lady,Ó Sara Price (student)

ÒThe Dog Ate My Disk, and Other Tales of Woe,Ó Carolyn Foster Segal

ÒTake-Out Restaurant,Ó Kimsohn Tang (student)

ÒThe Online Alternative,Ó Marc Williams (student)

ÒThe Transaction,Ó William Zinsser

Culture and Custom

ÒTortillas,Ó Jose Antonio Burciaga

ÒEmil's Big Chance Leaves Me Uneasy,Ó Tricia Capistrano

ÒOrange Crush,Ó LiYuan Li

ÒBoris Kosachev, Russian Pianist,Ó Danielle McLarin (student)

Life and Times

ÒAmerica, Stand up for Justice and Decency,Ó Macarena Hernandez

ÒBefore Air Conditioning,Ó Arthur Miller

ÒThe Last Generation to Live on the Edge,Ó Robb Moretti

ÒWhy We Need Animal Experimentation,Ó Thuy Nguyen (student)

ÒHow to Stop a Car with No BrakesÓ Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

ÒA ‘Good' American Citizen,Ó Linda S. Wallace


1. Choosing a Topic

2. Exploring Your Topic

3. Doing Research

4. Taking Notes

5. Watching Out for Plagiarism

6. Drafting a Thesis Statement

7. Making an Outline

8. Writing Your Paper

9. Documenting Your Sources

Sample Research Paper in MLA Style

Appendix B. Taking Standardized Assessment Tests

1. Dealing with Anxiety

2. Preparing for Standardized Tests

3. Answering Multiple-Choice Questions

4. Preparing for Essay Questions

Answers to Odd-Numbered Exercise Items


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