“Hundreds of genres, three questions, one book”

A Note from the Authors

Dear Colleague:

There are hundreds of genres in the world today—and the list is growing. No single writing course, and no single instructor, can prepare students for every genre, situation, and challenge they will face as writers.

And yet, as the range of genres students are expected to write multiplies (from traditional print essays to multimedia genres to workplace writing), we have found that most textbooks have responded by providing lists of more and more genres to cover in class.

Simply adding to the list of genres does not prepare students for the moment when they must write a genre that they have never encountered before. Nor does the “more genres” approach help students to recognize the differences between genres when they are written for different disciplines or different audiences. Yet every year there are new editions and new textbooks that continue to expand upon what’s expected from students—and from our teaching.

The world doesn’t need another writing guide; it needs a better writing guide.

While most textbooks teach students how to write, our book teaches students how writing works by taking a problem-solving approach to writing. Most college writing guides on the market today are primarily descriptive—listing the qualities of “universally good” writing—or prescriptive—telling students how to write particular genres. How Writing Works takes a new approach to genre pedagogy. In the pages of this book, we help students figure out a new genre for themselves, by asking students to figure out how the genre works:

  • “What is it?”

  • “Who reads it?”

  • “What’s it for?”

By helping students discover how writing works, our book teaches students how to engage effectively with any writing situation they may encounter at school, at home, or at work.

We invite you to learn more about our approach to teaching writing on this website, and we welcome your feedback.

Sincerely yours,

Jordynn Jack and Katie Rose Guest Pryal