Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching, Brief, 5th Edition

  • Randall VanderMey
  • Verne Meyer
  • John Van Rys
  • Patrick Sebranek
  • ISBN-10: 1285437969
  • ISBN-13: 9781285437965
  • 608 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2012, 2009, 2009
  • COPYRIGHT: 2015 Published
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About the Product

Combining streamlined instruction in the writing process with outstanding accessibility, THE COLLEGE WRITER, BRIEF, is a fully updated three-in-one text-with a rhetoric, a reader, and a research guide-for students at any skill level. Throughout the text, numerous student and professional writing samples highlight important features of academic writing-from voice to documentation-and offer models for students' own papers. The fifth edition features a greater focus on writing across the curriculum, further supported within the research chapters by additional coverage of report writing, primary research, and avoiding plagiarism.


  • THE COLLEGE WRITER, Brief, provides students with a concise yet complete overview of the writing process. The text's unique “at-a-glance” visual format presents each major concept in a one- or two-page spread, with a description of the concept followed by an example, and then the opportunity for hands-on practice, with writing assignments or practices exercises.

  • Consistent attention to the rhetorical situation-writer, reader, message, medium, and context-gives students a tool to analyze the works of others and create their own works. Chapter 1, for instance, begins with an illustration of the rhetorical situation and extended tips for reading actively.

  • “Learning Objectives” at the beginning of each chapter help students stay focused on key learning points; “Learning-Objective Checklists” at the end of the chapter allow students to track their performance.

  • The emphasis on thesis and outline creation encourages students to organize their thinking as they write.

  • High-interest academic writings from students and professionals help writers understand and create a scholarly tone. Throughout the text, the authors offer examples of writing for different disciplines as well as in different work contexts.


“The Outcomes Checklist reinforces the concepts and makes the students accountable for learning.”
— Dianne Krob, Rose State College

About the Author

Randall VanderMey

Randall VanderMey is a professor in the department of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He also has taught composition, literature, and technical writing at Iowa State University, Dordt College, and the University of Iowa. Dr. VanderMey earned his M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He is a contributing editor and creative consultant for Write Source. Dr. VanderMey has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards for his teaching and poetry. He has published two books of poems, GROWING SOUL: A SONG CYCLE, GOD TALK and CHARM SCHOOL: FIVE WOMEN OF THE ODYSSEY as well as a commissioned biography, MERIZON: THE GREAT JOURNEY.

Verne Meyer

Dr. Verne Meyer is an educator and businessperson. For nine years, he taught English in high schools in Michigan and Wisconsin. In addition, for fifteen years, he taught dramatic literature, theater history, and composition at Dordt University in Iowa. In 1977, partnering with Mr. Sebranek, Dr. Meyer co-founded Write Source Educational Publishing House, now a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Supplemental. Dr. Meyer earned his B.A. from Calvin College, his M.A. from Marquette University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. In addition to this text, he has co-authored a number of texts for college students, including THE COLLEGE WRITER'S HANDBOOK, COMP, THE BUSINESS WRITER, and WRITE FOR WORK. To meet the needs of students in grades 8 through 12, he has co-authored WRITERS INC, SCHOOL TO WORK, WRITE FOR COLLEGE, and a number of Write Source textbooks. Dr. Meyer's publications for businesspeople include WRITE FOR BUSINESS and EFFECTIVE EMAIL MADE EZ. Dr. Meyer is currently a contributing editor for Write Source and UpWrite Press. He is also a featured speaker in the School Improvement Network's instructional videos, Writing Across the Curriculum.

John Van Rys

Dr. John Van Rys has taught composition, business writing, creative writing, and literature to college students for more than 30 years. He began his teaching career at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, before moving to Redeemer University in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2005. He earned his M.A. and B.A. from the University of Western Ontario and his Ph.D. from Dalhousie University. Today, Dr. Van Rys pursues scholarly work in Canadian literature, while also writing fiction and poetry. For more than 20 years, he has worked on writing-across-the-curriculum theory and practice, on connections between workplace and academic writing. He has also pursued strategies for strengthening varied literacies in students, from reading and research to visual literacy. Dr. Van Rys has applied his expertise, co-authoring various writing handbooks for students, from middle school to college. He has also co-authored an award-winning business-writing handbook for workplace professionals, WRITE FOR BUSINESS, with UpWrite Press.

Patrick Sebranek

Patrick Sebranek (M.A. University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse) taught English, speech, and multimedia classes for 16 years at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin. During that time, he served as the English department chair and worked on several district-wide projects, including a writing-across-the-curriculum program and a K-12 writing sequence. He has studied the works of James Moffett, Ken Macrorie, Linda Reif, Nancie Atwell, and many other contemporary educators dealing with writing and learning. Mr. Sebranek is an author and editorial director for the Write Source Educational Publishing House and works closely with teachers and educators on all new and revised handbooks and sourcebooks.

Table of Contents

Reading, Thinking, Viewing, and Writing.
1. Critical Thinking Through Reading, Viewing, and Writing.
2. Beginning the Writing Process.
3. Planning.
4. Drafting.
5. Revising.
6. Editing and Proofreading.
7. Submitting Writing and Creating Portfolios.
The College Essay.
8. One Writer's Process.
9. Forms of College Writing.
Three Curricular Divisions. Writing in the Humanities. Writing in the Social Sciences. Writing in the Natural Sciences. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
10. Narration, Description, and Reflection.
Strategies for Personal Essays. Brief Narratives: Anecdotes. Sample Personal Essays. “The Entymology of Village Life,” by Robert Minto. “Spare Change,” by Teresa Zsuffa. “When Dreams Take Flight,” by Elizabeth Fuller. “Call Me Crazy, But I Have to Be Myself,” by Mary Seymour. “The Muscle Mystique,” by Barbara Kingsolver. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
11. Cause and Effect.
Strategies for Cause-Effect Essays. Sample Cause-Effect Essays. “The Slender Trap,” by Tina Rhys. “Dutch Discord,” by Brittany Korver. “If You Let Me Play,” by Mary Brophy Marcus. “Mind Over Mass Media,” by Steven Pinker. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
12. Comparison and Contrast.
Strategies for Comparison-Contrast Essays. Sample Comparison-Contrast Essays. “Sethe in Beloved and Orleanna in Poisonwood Bible,” by Rachel DeSmith. “Shrouded in Contradiction,” by Gelareh Asayesh. “Shades of Prejudice,” by Shankar Vedantam. “The Likeness Across the Atlantic,” by Peter Baldwin. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
13. Classification.
Strategies for Classification Essays. Sample Classification Essays. “Latin American Music,” by Kathleen Kropp. “Four Sides to Every Story,” by Stewart Brand. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Metaphor,” by Jessica Siegel. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
14. Process.
Strategies for Process Essays. Sample Process Essays. “Wayward Cells,” by Kerri Mertz. “The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln,” by Eric Foner. “Saint Caesar of Delano,” by Richard Rodriguez. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
15. Definition.
Strategies for Definition Essays. Sample Definition Essays. “Economic Disparities Fuel Human Trafficking,” by Shon Bogar. “Deft or Daft,” by David Schelhaas. “On Excellence,” by Cynthia Ozick. “Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth,” by Simon L. Garfinkle. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
16. Reading Literature: A Case Study in Analysis.
Strategies for Analyzing Literature and the Arts. Approaches to Literary Analysis. “Four Ways to Talk about Literature,” by John Van Rys. Analyzing a Poem. “The Time Around Scars,” by Michael Ondaatje. “The Stories Scars Hold: An Explication of Michael Ondaatje's 'The Time Around Scars,'“ by Michael Doyle (Student). Analyzing a Short Story. “Good Country People,” by Flannery O'Connor. “'Good Country People': Broken Body, Broken Soul,” by Anya Terekhina (Student). Analysis of a Novel. “Ah, the Power of Women: Louis Erdrich's 'Love Medicine'“ by Aleah Stenberg. Literary Terms. Poetry Terms. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
17. Strategies for Argumentation and Persuasion.
18. Taking a Position.
19. Persuading Readers to Act.
20. Proposing a Solution.
21. Taking Essay Tests.
Reviewing for Tests. Forming a Study Group. Consider the Testing Situation. Taking the Essay Test. Writing Under Pressure: The Essay Test Quick Guide. Taking an Objective Test. Tips for Coping with Test Anxiety.
22. Writing for the Workplace.
Writing the Business Letter. Writing Memos and E-mail. Applying for a Job.
23. Preparing Oral Presentations.
Organizing Your Presentation. Writing Your Presentation. “Save Now or Pay Later,” by Burnette Sawyer. Developing Computer Presentations. Overcoming Stage Fright Checklist.
24. Getting Started: From Planning Research to Evaluating Sources.
25. Conducting Research: Primary, Library, Web.
26. Building Credibility: Avoiding Plagiarism.
27. Drafting Papers with Documented Research.
28. MLA Style.
29. APA Style.

New to this edition

  • NEW Chapter 26, “Building Credibility: Avoiding Plagiarism,” helps students understand what constitutes plagiarism, why it is a serious ethical and academic problem, and how to avoid plagiarism and other source abuses.
  • A new Chapter 16, “Analyzing Literature: A Case Study,” looks at writing about literature in the context of the analytical writing principles developed throughout the analytical writing chapters (Chapters 11-15). Four key approaches to literary analysis are covered, as are literary terms. Sample writings include an analysis of a poem, a short story, and a novel.
  • Consolidated coverage of the rhetorical modes is presented in each Part II chapter, including additional coverage of key principles to keep in mind when dealing with the particular mode.
  • New material on key rhetorical issues for writing within each discipline in Chapter 9, “Forms of College Writing,” guides students in exploring the conventions of the many different kinds of writing they are called upon to do throughout college.
  • New chapter-opening photographs and quick writing prompts engage students in critical thinking and analysis.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the Main title.
Please see Main title page for new to this edition information.

Instructor Supplements

Online Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 1285449754 | ISBN-13: 9781285449753)

Available for download on the instructor website, the Instructor's Manual is made up of assessment rubrics, learning objectives, an overview of the course, sample syllabi, chapter summaries, and teaching suggestions.