In the introduction to They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein provide templates designed to help writers introduce opposing arguments, they say, and their own arguments, I say, to create a conversational and effective argument. Specifically, Graff and Birkenstein argue that the types of writing templates they offer will improve writing and make it more creative, despite some people believing that templates take away from creativity. As the authors themselves put it “creativity and originality lie not in the avoidance of established forms but in the imaginative use of them.” In sum, their view is that templates are beneficial to creating arguments that do not leave readers with any questions and that are fully developed.

I agree with authors, and in my view the templates that they have provided aid in creating purpose and flow that many writers may struggle with creating. For instance, by creating templates that encourage writers to introduce the ideas of opposing sides, it makes it easier for writers to have purpose and provide answers to what they want to say, what provoked them to say it, why they are saying it. Some might object that including the opposing argument creates less focus and purpose in an essay, yet I would argue that Graff and Birkenstein are right- without including what they say, readers may know what you are trying to say, but not why you are saying it, thus leaving readers with questions still. Overall, I believe that by using the templates that the authors provided in this book, it can aid writers in creating clear, effective, and respectful arguments.

Chapter 1, titled “They Say:” Starting with What Others are Saying, states that the order of how you introduce topics in a paper is important. The chapter enforces the idea that arguments are conversations, and that when entering a conversation you must listen and restate to show understanding of the opposite viewpoint. The authors suggest introducing what they say in a summary as soon as possible. They also suggest going into greater detail later in your paper when you bring up specific points. This chapter gives various templates for introducing what they say because depending on what type of argument you are introducing, different templates exist that work best with what is trying to be conveyed. Finally, the authors state that it is important to keep the opposing ideas “in view,” or to keep reminding readers what you are responding to. One annotation that I made was highlighting the idea of return sentences, because it was something I had never done in my writing before and it is something that I think I should keep in mind when writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *