Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing

John R. Trimble  
Total pages
December 2010
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This bestselling brief supplementary text is for any course in which students write.


Writing with Style is storehouse of practical writing tips–written in a lively, conversational style. This text provides insight into: how to generate interesting ideas and get them down on paper; how to write a critical analysis; how to write a crisp opener; how to invigorate a dull style; how to punctuate with confidence; how to handle various conventions–and much more.   Trimble is readily accessible to first-year college students, yet sophisticated enough to delight a senior English Honors class. Unusually flexible, the book can function equally well as both a self-teaching text (in literature courses, etc.) and a companion text (in composition and journalism courses).


  • Describes a remarkably effective method for generating ideas and converting them into coherent prose.
    • Helps students overcome difficulty with generating ideas and developing these ideas in their writing.
  • Emphasizes audience awareness
    • Keeps students focused on one of the most important aspects of effective writing.

  • Takes the mystery out of how skilled writers actually think.
  • Specifies the all-important fundamentals of good writing–Then explains with wit and common sense precisely why these elements are so fundamental.
  • Clearly explains the rationale of various stylistic conventions.
    • Helps students understand why these conventions are effective so they are better able to apply them to their own work.

  • Explores the reasons why certain stylistic taboos should now be questioned.
    • Helps students develop a critical perspective on writing.

  • Answers students' recurring questions about punctuation, documentation, and various conventions.

    • Serves as a handy reference for correcting and editing their work.

  • Considers the aesthetic value of writing-rules and the resources of various grammatical and punctuation marks.

    • Shows how these seemingly dry concepts are actually tools writers use to maximize creativity.

  • Analyzes the art of revising and proofreading.

    • Helps students see writing as a work in progress.

  • Summarizes important points in list form.
    • Facilitates using the book for review and quick reference.

  • Enumerates over 200 tips for increasing the readability of one's writing.
    • Offers a plethora of techniques from which students can pick and choose.

  • Supplements the author's advice with statements by professional writers.
    • Shows students how even professional writers follow the same process.

  • Makes the use of analogies to explain abstract concepts.
    • Appeals to different learning styles to maximize understanding.

  • Uses witty, memorable examples (not solemn, mechanical ones).
    • Helps engage students in learning to write.

  • Includes examples from both professional and student writing.
    • Provides examples students can relate to and aspire to.

  • Demonstrates the art of expository writing.
    • Instructors can introduce students to the many places where Trimble artfully illustrates his own points. Ex.___

New to this Edition

An new chapter, Critical Analysis: Jousting with Mencken,  includes an essay by Mencken and student critical analyses of it, along with Trimble's discussion to provide an illustrative unit on this essential academic writing skill.


A new chapter, Dramatizing Your Prose, provides examples and discussion of how to inject the principles of good story-telling into expository prose to keep an audience engaged.


Fresh examples and updated help on taboos, punctuation, usage manuals, and other topics

Table of Contents



A Word About These “Conversations”

Preface to the Third Edition




Chapter 1: Thinking Well


Chapter 2: Getting Launched


Chapter 3: Openers


Chapter 4: Middles


Chapter 5: Closers


Chapter 6: Diction


Chapter 7: Readability


Chapter 8: Superstitions


Chapter 9: Critical Analysis: Jousting with Mencken


Chapter 10:  Dramatizing Your Ideas


Chapter 11: Revising


Chapter 12: Proofreading

    Odds and Ends


Chapter 13: Punctuation







    Exclamation points 


Chapter 14: Quoting 

    Punctuation introducing quotations

    Punctuation at the end of quotations 

    Miscellaneous small points 

    Indented quotations 

    Orphan quotes 


    Punctuating run-on quotations of poetry 

    References for quotations 

    Punctuating parenthetical references 


    Editorial insertions (square brackets)


Chapter 15: Abbreviations


Chapter 16: Tips on Usage 


Chapter 17: Epilogue