170 Bad Ideas About Good Writing

Bad Ideas about Writing, Cheryl E. Ball and Drew Loue, https://textbooks.lib.wvu.edu/badideas/badideasaboutwriting-book.pdf 

From the Introduction

The entries cohere around eight major categories of bad ideas about writing that are tied to the production, circulation, cultural use of, evaluation, and teaching of writing in multiple ways. The categories are bad ideas about:

  • The features of good writing
  • What makes good writers
  • How grammar and style should be understood
  • Which techniques or processes produce good writing
  • Particular genres and occasions for writing
  • How writing should be assessed
  • How technology impacts writing
  • Teachers of writing

Although we have categories (and there are thematic clusters visible within the larger categories), we encourage readers to read the entries with and against each other, looking for productive overlaps and disagreements. For instance, there are at least three entries on the five-paragraph essay—the genre perhaps most known by the various publics reading this book, and the most maligned by its writers—and each entry takes a different perspective, disagreeing as needed where the research and the writer’s experience pertain.

Without forcing a weak consensus or flattening out the individuality of the chapters, together they offer a practical, action-oriented group of rational manifestos for discontinuing unhelpful or exclusionary ideas about a subject and activity that all have a stake in. We hope that the collection is a conversation-starter, not a conversation-stopper, and we hope that it provides a catalog of support for productive conversations about how and why to stop the bad ideas about writing and start the good.



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