The Imaginative Argument: A Practical Manifesto for Writers Paperback – 3 Apr 2005
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"The Imaginative Argument is an extremely useful writing guide. Cioffi makes a good case for the importance of writing in our day-to-day lives - as a tool for clarifying our thoughts, persuading others, and enhancing our lives. Writing teachers as well as students will find it interesting and accessible." - Kathryn Watterson, University of Pennsylvania"
From the Back Cover
""The Imaginative Argument" is the culmination of many years of thought and practice, the summing up of a lifetime dedicated to reading, writing, teaching composition, and, above all, thinking about writing and its connection to the imagination. Anyone interested in the process of writing will learn a great deal from this book. Anyone who teaches writing will learn even more--new and useful techniques for their classroom. And, most important of all, students will learn bold and efficient ways to master college writing."--Murray Sperber, Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana University, Bloomington
"Frank Cioffi's manifesto is intellectually rigorous, but it is also passionate, stylish, meticulous, idiosyncratic, and unique among college writing texts. Its insistence on wholly original writing--hence, wholly original thinking--is heartening. Indeed, "The Imaginative Argument" is a model of the kind of writing college students should be producing."--Valerie Sayers, author of "Due East and Brain Fever," and Professor of Creative Writing, University of Notre Dame
"Would that I had read this book or taken Frank Cioffi's class fifty years ago. Better yet, I wish the contents of this book resided in the minds of all of us who produce soporific sentences in the name of 'technical' or 'professional' writing. If it did, we would all benefit. God knows I would read more technical papers. And kudos to the author for nicely making the point that creative writing is not solely the property of those who write fiction."--James L. Adams, Stanford University, author of "Conceptual Blockbusting"
"It's not enough to have an opinion or an idea. Writing well means making your reader follow, understand, agree or disagree, care. To do that you'll need the 'imaginative argument' Frank Cioffi explores here. With its sympathetic diagnoses of writing goals and writing problems, this useful book celebrates the kind of writing that actually gets work done."--William Germano, author of "From Dissertation to Book"
""The Imaginative Argument" is an extremely useful writing guide. Cioffi makes a good case for the importance of writing in our day-to-day lives-as a tool for clarifying our thoughts, persuading others, and enhancing our lives. Writing teachers as well as students will find it interesting and accessible."--Kathryn Watterson, University of Pennsylvania
"This book is a significant contribution to the expository writing field. Cioffi's ideas about imagination and his suggestions for teaching it are brilliant and provocative. His own writing is consistently sparkling, frequently witty, and serves as a model for students."--Alfred E. Guy, Jr., Yale UniversitySee all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is an edgy book that presents the author's strong opinions on how persuasive essays should be written. It might be used as an adjunct textbook in a persuasive writing class as it is not an introductory type of book. The book assumes you have some previous experience in writing persuasive essays.
I particularly liked the following topics:
- The plea to the reader to stay forever curious and to constantly be writing persuasive essays that require researching and deep thinking. His chapter on writing research papers was most helpful.
- Great text selections (and references to authors).
- His plea to look for disconfirmatory evidence as well as confirmatory ones. Particularly his concept of Infeeling (sync'ing up with the reader). Also how disconfirmatory evidence helps you create his "Delta T" (changed Thesis) that's finalized in the conclusion. This discussion was new and helpful, but may not work in all types of essays.
- The need to argue for something new, not obvious, not taken for granted, or superficial; otherwise, you'll have a boring essay.
- Why you must know your audience and how/why to lead your reader's questions. His (borrowed) idea of the reader over your shoulder called the Development Demon tracking the reader's questions.
- How to use questions in the early writing stages to help you find a new and exciting Thesis.
- His unique concept of starting with a Thesis and then concluding with a changed Thesis (Delta T) after taking into account your proof and the con arguments that don't destroy your Thesis but change it in a modest way.
- Some of his idea-creation techniques were interesting.
- How to use the concluding sentence on a paragraph.
- How to integrate quotations and proof, particularly how not to do it.
- His nicely organized list of things not to do when considering style. And the list of things to do to delight the reader.
- The importance of surprising the reader.
- The importance of metaphors found in great writing.
However, I really took issue with the following:
- When talking about style and paragraph development the author never referenced Joseph Williams on "Style" yet used what I consider to be William's logic of providing Old information first, then New. And furtermore, Williams does it so much better. Look online here on Amazon for the more recent editions of "Style" or any of his other books on style by Joseph Williams.
I liked this book very much and highly recommend it for anyone writing essays -- particularly persuasive essays. The book also applies to writers of "creative non-fiction."
Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Keep your dictionary handy as I must have added about 50 new words to my new vocabulary book.
Sugar Land, TX
In this volume's chapters, the topics discussed include writing with your intended audience in mind, developing a thesis, different possible structures for your essay, recognizing and avoiding a range of logical fallacies, the importance of an elegant and professional writing style, and more.
Of those topics, I was particularly impressed with the section on knowing and avoiding logical fallacies. As Cioffi says, logical fallacies are cheating at argument, and by learning the common fallacies, one can not only detect this cheating in others, but also avoid sloppy and invalid arguments in one's own writing and thinking.
In his final chapter, Cioffi sums up the value of this book better than I ever could:
"What happens when people don’t write? They have others do their thinking for them. [...] They accept written communications from companies or organizations and submit to the authority of that institutional rhetoric. They hire attorneys to write for them, attorneys who themselves often have to rely on associates or paralegals to do the actual composition. Writing is passed down and passed down, and the result is that no one thinks for himself or herself, and society lurches along more and more mindlessly."
Study this book, and help make society a little less mindless.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book in return for a review.
We've switched models to a more conference-style class, and I think I'm going back to the simple readability and passion of this book.
I need to find my old copy to be sure if I'm re-adopting this, but I'm somewhat relieved there's no new editions. Cioffi said what he had to say, said it once, and there's no need to update it biennially.
Shockingly, it's not actually a bad book!
It's written quite well and is an easy read as a result. The author pokes fun at himself and common theories from time-to-time, which is always fun.
You'll come out from reading this having gained valuable writing skills!
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