Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s book, They Say I Say, presents academic writing on a “how to” and “what not to do” level. They Say I Say discusses many topics, such as how to enter a conversation in the class room, how to include you naysayer’s argument into your writing, how to properly frame quotes, and how to appropriately blend your own voice into your academic writing. The book can serve as a tool for young writers, like high school freshmen. They Say I Say is also packed full of examples and templates to help explain what is going on to academic writers no matter their education level or stage in their writing.
They Say I Say, helped me tremendously in some areas of my writing, such as how to appropriately “frame” quotes, and how to follow up quotes so I sound like I know what I’m talking about. I have a terrible habit of adding quotes where they are not needed, or not “framing” them properly so the reader knows what I’m talking about.
Most recently They Say I Say helped me to get a better grasp on the fine art of putting enough of your own style into your writing that your voice stands out, while still writing to your audience in an appropriate manner. That was golden for someone like me who tends to write, how I speak, slang and all, without thinking about my audience. This book is great. However, They Say I Say is not great because it made me a better writer or even that it was written in such a way that shows the reader how writing can be fun, They Say I Say will stand out in my mind because the templates. I always feel like I know what I want to say but can never find the right way to say it. This is were the templates come in. It seemed like every time I was stuck on how to include my naysayer’s argument or how to frame a quote so it didn’t sound the same at the other quotes, I could just open up the book and find something that fit. I know this book is not the cure for cancer, but I do think, all cheesiness aside, that I will be using this book for a long time to come. It is well written in a “for the people” kind of way, where every topic discussed is for the writer to use as a tool and not some stuffy guide on what writing has to be in order to be good.