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    Simply put, The Simple Math of Writing Well is a breakthrough in writing guides — and in twenty-seven years of teaching writing, I have tried many different strategies and texts. Students today need a new kind of instruction for the environment of technology in which they are immersed, and they need to know that we writing instructors can respond to that with a clear and proven method for the assignments they need to do. The Simple Math of Writing Well accomplishes that by combining brief definitions with thorough explanations, followed by exercises that connect concept to practice very effectively. The equations, such as topic sentence + evidence = paragraph, are the kind of simple guide students can grasp while applying those equations to develop complex ideas. Technology has not only changed how students find information but also how they read and think. Dr. Harrop’s direct approach responds to that, and The Simple Math is what a true writing handbook should be, connecting good writing instruction with the immediacy of application, generating a momentum that students can experience for a greater sense of their own writing agency. I’m recommending it to all our writing instructors.

    Dr. Lisbeth Chapin is Associate Professor of English,Writing Program
    Coordinator, Gwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley, PA


    The Simple Math of Writing Well: Writing in the 21st Century is a refreshingly clear, thoughtful, and helpful resource for both students and teachers of writing. While designed as a text for a college-level writing course, the book is also highly appropriate as a supplemental writing resource for high school students, college students of any major, or even non-university students who are seeking a refresher on the basics of writing.

    Author Jennie A. Harrop presents readers with a lucid, structural philosophy of writing that deftly balances both theory and practice. Particularly noteworthy is Harrop’s focus on the difference between essential and inessential rules for writing. Correctly asserting that many of the “rules” for writing (“do not end a sentence with a preposition”; “do not use first-person pronouns”) are inessential because they fail to account for the audience, purpose, or rhetorical context of a given writing project, Harrop instead offers readers a set of essential rules that focus on increasing the clarity and developing the meaning of a text. These begin at the sentence level, moving on to paragraphs, then essay structure, and culminate with an examination of the writing process itself.

    For too many students, writing classes are the subject of apprehension and frustration precisely because the question of what constitutes “good” writing seems so arbitrary and subjective. The Simple Math of Writing Well seeks to dispel these anxieties by offering readers a precise and straightforward guide to writing that demystifies the structure and process of writing while offering a substantial set of tools to help writers craft their work.

    Dr. Christine Gillette, Metropolitan State University of Denver


    An excellent choice as the principle book in a writing course or as a supplemental writing text in a discipline-specific class, this book is a brief and complete writing manual with an approachable voice, clear rules, ample examples, and selfdirected activities.

    The purpose of the book is to demystify writing and breakdown the misconceptions around the rules of grammar and usage. Drawing on her career as a journalist, writing professor, and adult education program director, Harrop uses personal examples to speak to an audience of reluctant writers, demonstrating that writing is not as subjective as people fear. By understanding the simple rules — the mathematics — of grammar and usage, anyone can write well.

    The book starts by addressing the myths surrounding grammar usage and punctuation and replacing those false rules with the correct ones. The next three chapters are at the center of Harrop’s conceptual metaphor of writing-as-math, turning discourse into equations: the sentence equation, the paragraph equation, the essay equation. The last part of the book presents the writing process, research writing instruction, academic formatting, and writing in the professional world.

    The brilliance of this book is in its audience focus: the confused grammarian in all of us. Her simple “1 + 1 = 2” approach to writing makes us confident that we can learn grammar, that we can write better, that we can communicate more clearly. An excellent choice for the classroom or as a reference for anyone who writes.

    Polly Peterson is Assistant Professor of English, Director of General
    Education, at George Fox University

    REVIEWERS' NOTES is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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