Writing from Start to Finish (2001)

This is the third of Kate Grenville's books about the writing process, following the success of The Writing Book and Making Stories (co-written with Sue Woolfe).

Writing From Start to Finish takes the mystery out of the writing process. It's practical, hands-on and user-friendly. Kate Grenville's extensive experience as a teacher of writing has resulted in a book full of tried-and-true ways to approach any kind of writing with confidence.

What's it about?

This book shows you how to tackle any kind of writing job by using the same six steps:

  • Step One: Gather ideas
  • Step Two: Choose the best ones
  • Step Three: Make an outline
  • Step Four: Write a first draft
  • Step Five: Revise
  • Step Six: Edit.

These steps can be applied to essays, poems, screenplays, letters, newspaper articles ... just about anything you might need to write.

How does it work?

Each step is covered in a separate chapter that contains:

  • An About ... section, where the step is explained in an easy-to-understand way. Kate Grenville shares the techniques and tricks she's learned over 20 years of being a professional writer.
  • An Example section, where there are worked examples of two kinds of writing – a creative writing piece and an essay. These examples evolve through the six steps, so the reader can watch them developing from a blank page to a finished piece.
  • Doing It section, that takes the reader one small step at a time through the process, showing exactly how to approach it, and how to deal with problems that arise.

There's also a chapter on user-friendly grammar, a table of different types of text, a quick night-before-the-exam summary, and an index .

Writing is a complicated process, but this book makes it about as simple as it can be. The tone is casual, the advice is straightforward, and the whole approach makes writing a skill that anyone can learn. Illustrations reinforce the ideas visually and help to break up the text into bite-sized chunks.

Who's it for?

The book works across a range of ages and abilities, and can be used equally well by an individual or by a class.

It can be used by good primary-age writers who'd benefit from extension.

It's ideal for the middle years of high school, where writing is required in many subjects – science and economics as well as English and history – and students need flexible writing skills that can be adapted to whatever task they have to do.

Older students (at university, for example) often find the writing skills they learned at school aren't adequate to the challenge of tertiary studies. Writing from Start to Finish will give them a very secure grounding in the fundamentals of writing. Knowing the basic building-blocks of the writing process, they can then confidently tackle the extended writing of essays and reports.

ESL students may have good language skills but might not have much experience of writing in English. Writing from Start to Finish gives a framework to follow and an outline of the basic structures of writing in English. It gives clear step-by-step instructions in simple, non-technical language.

Table of Contents

Introduction

  • What makes writing hard?
  • How this book helps
  • Can anyone learn to write?
  • How the six steps work

Writing Assignments

  • Understanding assignments
  • Two kinds of writing assignment – imaginative writing and an essay

Step One: Getting Ideas

  • About getting ideas
  • Getting ideas for imaginative writing
  • Getting ideas for an essay

Step Two: Choosing

  • About choosing ideas
  • Choosing ideas for imaginative writing
  • Choosing ideas for an essay

Step Three: Outlining

  • About making an outline
  • Making an outline for imaginative writing
  • Making an outline for an essay

Step Four: Drafting

  • About writing a first draft
  • First draft for imaginative writing
  • First draft for an essay

Step Five: Revising

  • About revising
  • Revising imaginative writing
  • Revising an essay

Step Six: Editing

  • About editing
  • Editing imaginative writing
  • Editing an essay

Other useful stuff

  • Applying the six steps to different kinds of writing
  • Types of text at a glance
  • User-friendly grammar
  • Ten-minute exam kit.

Writing from Start to Finish: a Six-Step Guide is published in Australia by Allen & Unwin.