Beyond Typing: A Student Guide to Writing

Truman Capote famously (and apocryphally) dismissed Jack Kerouac's On the Road with the succinct insult, "That's not writing. That's typing." It is not hard to see what Capote meant by this distinction. While Kerouac had filled pages with printed text (i.e., typing), he had failed to practice the craft and revision necessary for the clear and forceful statement of ideas (i.e., writing).

In Capote's spirit, we have written a guide to moving beyond merely filling the page to organizing and presenting an argument. It is a guide, if you will, to writing.

The project originated with the SAGES Peer Writing Crew, a tutoring program operated jointly by SAGES and ESS from 2004 to 2016. As members of the Crew, we worked extensively with undergraduates to help them improve their compositional skills. As we prepared to graduate in 2007, it occurred to us that future students might benefit from a repository of Crew wisdom—an online resource to which they could refer when face-to-face tutoring was unavailable. We also thought that future writing tutors could make use of such a resource while working with students. Thus the guide was born.

This guide is by no means an exhaustive manual of grammar or of writing in general. Rather, it is a compilation of friendly, practical advice to assist students in handling everyday compositional issues. Much of the guide focuses on how to make an argument clearly and forcefully.

- David Mansfield and Christopher Williams

Some Useful Links to Get You Started
  • Table of Contents – Leads you to articles on every aspect of the writing process
  • Common Problems – Indicates topics of special interest to undergraduate writers
  • Additional Resources - Features helpful citation guides, as well as general writing guides and online resources